Charnwood Water, a place changed by a changed man.
Former heroine addict saves fishing venue after carping turned his life around.
‘Carping saved my life.’ These are the words of one former drug addict whose love of the sport has turned his life around for good.
Phil Ward was on a slippery slope, addicted to heroine and in and out of prison for most of his life. However, following his last sentence for armed robbery, the 41-year-old was taken carp fishing by a friend – a day out that quite possibly saved his very life.
It was an event that has also led to him now being in charge of one of the best big carp waters in the Midlands, Charnwood Water in Loughborough, where he not only looks after the venue but also now lives, bivvied up on the bank 24hours-a-day, 365 days a year.
“I was out of prison and slipping back into my old ways when a friend took me carp fishing for the day,” Phil told Advanced Carp Fishing. “It was a revelation and from there I was just hooked. It was so good to get away from the day-to-day stuff and very therapeutic. I've done all the rehabilitation courses under the sun, but carping at Charnwood was the only one that worked and I believe it really did save my life.
“I got made homeless not long after, and from then on I’ve just lived in my bivvy next to the lake," he added. "I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. This place saved my life and I owe it, so now I look after it.”
Dealing with marauding gangs, arsonists and drug addicts on the site, Phil looked after the water as a voluntary bailiff for a few years before the local council took him on full time.
“They were paying a security firm a lot of money to look after the site but it made a lot more sense just let me take over as I'm there all the time. Now I look after everything and the place is better than ever,” continued Phil.
One man who knows how much effort Phil has put into turning both himself and Charnwood around is carping star Jim Shelley, who describes both Phil's turnaround and work at the water as 'incredible'.
“It’s incredible that Phil’s managed to turn himself around from the horrible mess he was in with drugs, it just goes to show what having a passion for carping can do,” said Jim.
“Before Phil took over there were a lot of problems on Charnwood, lots of poaching too. It’s now a lovely place thanks to him, and I love fishing there.”
Last modified on Wednesday, 21 December 2011 20:18