Lifelong Leeds fishing fan has reel ambition

Adrian Addy giving angling tips to Amy Foster at Billing Dam, Rawdon, Leeds.
Adrian Addy giving angling tips to Amy Foster at Billing Dam, Rawdon, Leeds.
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If wishes were fishes, then Adrian Addy would be praying for the catch of the day.

The dedicated angling fan is hoping to fulfil a lifelong dream, by opening Yorkshire’s first academy dedicated to promoting the sport.

Lifelong angling fan Adrian Addy hopes to open Yorkshire's first angling academy at Billing Dam in Rawdon - and train up a generation of future fishing stars. 'Pictures : Jonathan Gawthorpe

Lifelong angling fan Adrian Addy hopes to open Yorkshire's first angling academy at Billing Dam in Rawdon - and train up a generation of future fishing stars. 'Pictures : Jonathan Gawthorpe

In fact, he hopes it will help pave the way to turn fishing into a school curriculum subject and even an Olympic sport, and inspire a generation of young anglers from Yorkshire.

Mr Addy, a businessman from Rawdon, has ploughed all his money into turning the derelict Billing Dam into an angling learning and visitor centre, with the aim of helping youngsters to learn about sustainable fishing and wildlife.

He says he also hopes to showcase Leeds and Yorkshire to the 4.5 million anglers across the UK and will work predominantly with local schools.

Mr Addy was drawn to Billing Dam because of its picturesque surroundings, but also by concern that the site was being targeted for anti social behaviour.

Harvey Coates and Ben Foster test the waters at Billing Dam, Rawdon, Leeds.

Harvey Coates and Ben Foster test the waters at Billing Dam, Rawdon, Leeds.

Originally a feeder for one of the wool mills in the area, it was later used as a trout fishery but has been abandoned for several years. Mr Addy bought the site 18 months go, and has spent a huge amount of time and cash in cleaning it up and dredging it of rubbish.

“I have been angling for 40 years,” he said.

“I started when I was six with my dad. I was 11 when I started competing.

“Some kids never get to go fishing unless family members do it, I want to give those kids a chance,

“In my view I am preserving the dam and want to leave it as a legacy for kids in the future.”

Speaking of his passion for the sport, he said it had given him “direction, a better understanding of wildlife and how to preserve it and lifelong friends”.

“It’s the most therapeutic sport on the planet and it reaches out to youngsters,” he added.

“When you are coaching, you find kids who are passionate, like they are about football.

“Some kids can read water like others read a football pitch.

“There’s nothing else like this in Leeds or in Yorkshire and I want it to become a sanctuary.”

Mr Addy hopes his new angling academy could open by next summer, pending final planning approval for a visitor centre and house on site, which he believes is necessary for security and to deter vandals.

As a qualified angling coach, he hopes to offer private tuition, school visits and more.

Children under 16 would be taught in classes of eight or less.

The dam will be restocked with mainly coarse fish, and anything caught will be thrown back into the water.

There are 4.5m anglers in the UK.

Sport England has recently recognised angling as a sport rather than a hobby.

It means schools can now offer it on the curriculum.

One major study found that 9% of the population over 12 years of age in England and Wales go fishing at least once a year.

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