26 April 2016
This is not your typical fly fishing blog, but please do read on…..I want to tell you a little story, it’s a real life story
I moved to New Zealand 13 years ago and luckily chose the wonderful Owen Valley to establish my wee fishing lodge. I was lucky principally because of the sensational people who live in the valley. Braden & Robyn Cooper and Ross & Pauline Farrell.
These farming families are the most friendly, down to earth, typical kiwi sheep and beef farmers one could possibly meet. And they went out of their way to help a computer industry refugee and city slicker like me acclimatise to life spent living in a remote rural setting.
And then 2 years later Pauline was diagnosed with breast cancer. She fought bravely but unfortunately the cancer was very aggressive and 10 years ago (today) she died.
I did the usual things, like donate to the various cancer charities and then I guess life moved on. That was until I heard that the American based charity Casting for Recovery had set up in New Zealand. CFR retreats focus on improving quality of life for women with breast cancer through the therapeutic sport of fly fishing.
This was the 4th year we have donated Owen River Lodge to host the CFR South Island retreat. The retreat kicked off late Friday afternoon and went through to mid afternoon Sunday. There were 10 participants, all of whom are at different points of their battle with breast cancer.
They are supported by 2 specialist nurses and a gaggle of “Pink Ladies” – the volunteers that provide the glue to make the whole retreat work.
Friday night was spent getting to know one another and having a fabulous 3 course meal prepared by Ryan our head chef.
After a hearty breakfast, Saturday morning was spent learning to cast and then the heavens opened up as only they can do on the South Island of New Zealand. Never mind, there was massages for all, manicures to be had, some Pilates to stretch out to and fly tying to watch and learn. And then of course there was another 3 course sumptuous feast courtesy of Chef Ryan followed by a group discussion and even a little sing along.
The heavens parted and the sun shone on these very brave women Sunday morning. Each of the retreat participants was guided by one of the 10 fishing guides who volunteered their services for the day.
The three hours on the water went quickly and, as with every retreat we have hosted, brown trout were landed ! Then it was back to the lodge for lunch, photos with the guides and that signalled the close of another retreat.
The Casting For Recovery retreat is absolutely the highlight of my season; it fills my heart with joy and sets my spirits soaring.
In memory of Pauline Farrell