How it all began
Angling clubs go back decades, even centuries, but the Cancer and Pisces Club is something new. It is a club open only to those with cancer, along with their carers. Its purpose is to use the well-documented therapy of fishing to aid those undergoing the trauma of cancer.
Cancer and Pisces, the extremely well received memoir of the late Mick May, was released by Quiller Publishing in 2020. Those of you have read it might recall that it tells the story of his life since diagnosis with a terminal cancer in 2013 and the part his love of fishing had to play until his long and courageous battle ended in March 2022.
In January 2021 there was a spin-off when the well-known fishing entrepreneur, coach and guide, Marina Gibson, pitched to Mick the idea of an angling club dedicated to cancer sufferers and their carers; more than that she had already negotiated for the purpose exclusive access to the well-stocked lake at the award-winning Swinton Park Hotel in North Yorkshire. If you’ll forgive the pun, he was hooked, and he and Marina set about recruiting a very small band to make the dream a reality.
Marina and the team have been making progress. The Cancer and Pisces Trust was registered with the Charity Commission (number: 1195567) in August 2021 and formerly launched at Swinton Estate in May 2022.
Please read on to learn more about us and our activities.
Meet The Team
1958 - 2022
Mick May left the University of St Andrews in 1981 and then spent twenty years working in finance. Typically self disparaging, he saw himself increasingly as the worst banker in the City of London. His second career saw him set up and grow the social enterprise Blue Sky, probably best described as "the only company in the country where you need a criminal record to work there". Since he formed the charity in 2005 it has succeeded in employing over 1,500 released prisoners. Before retiring on medical grounds in 2015, Mick brokered the merger between Blue Sky and the former Rehabilitation for Addicted Prisoners Trust (RAPt) to form The Forward Trust. In 2016 he was awarded the OBE for this work.
In 2013 Mick was diagnosed with mesothelioma, an incurable lung cancer caused by exposure to asbsestos. He served on the boards of a number of charities and between 2015-21 was the Chair of Governors of the Kensington Aldridge Academy, situated at the foot of Grenfell Tower. His memoir, Cancer and Pisces, was published in August 2020. Mick's courageous battle ended at home on the 7th March 2022.
Mick leaves his wife Jill and their six children. He was an avid reader of history books and an extraordinarily keen angler. He continued to fish until the end of his remarkable life.
Marina founded The Northern Fishing School at Swinton Estate in North Yorkshire, in June 2019, where she and her team teach all ages and abilities the art of fishing, connecting as many people as possible with the great outdoors. Marina is a certified Fly Fishers International Instructor, 1st 4sport Level 2 coach and freelance writer.
"Fishing is one of the most mindful sports you can do – the art of fly fishing requires complete concentration, is total absorption and is both exhilarating and relaxing. It is how I find calm and I know others would benefit from giving it a go too. Get outdoors, it’s great for the mind and soul.”
Marina is a trustee for River Action UK who is on a mission to raise awareness on river pollution and apply pressure on industrial and agricultural producers. She is an ambassador for The Angling Trust and Atlantic Salmon Trust.
Ashe Windham, CVO, FRGS, has always been fascinated by what lies beneath the surface of the water and, from the age of six, has spent an inordinate proportion of his life trying to extract the denizens of the deep. His tastes are catholic and range from flyfishing for trout and salmon to ledgering for barbel through spinning for pike to sea fishing off the West Coast of Scotland.
He spent ten years as an officer in the Irish Guards where he was seldom parted from a travelling fly rod, before embarking upon a City career where fishing forays were confined to weekends and holidays. He spends a third of his year with his family on the banks of the river Oykel in Sutherland, where he is chairman of the the Kyle of Sutherland District Salmon Fisheries Board and The Upper Oykel Fishings Ltd.
Ashe has extensive charitable experience and chairs the Kyle of Sutherland Fisheries Trust as well as another charitable trust, is a Trustee of the Prince’s Foundation and he sits on the board of two other charitable trusts. He chaired The Queen Elizabeth Castle of Mey Trust from its inception in 1996 to 2019.
James Royds is married with adult children and lives within “casting distance” of the Tyne in Northumberland. He caught his first fish in Somerset at the end of his grandmother’s garden aged 7. He has fished ever since. He is drawn by aquatic magnets to anywhere there is flowing water and is most at one with the world when he is reading a river and imagining what lies beneath. When wrestling with the woes of the world he invariably heads to water for thinking time and its therapeutic and restorative properties. He first met Mick May at a school in Northumberland in 1966.
James has held appointments in a range of commercial organizations since the late seventies, including four years as a regular and twenty six years as a reserve soldier. He commanded the Queen’s Own Yeomanry between 1999-2002 and was Honorary Colonel of the Northumberland Hussars between 2014-2019. He works as an independent risk, business continuity and organizational resilience advisor helping organizations to plan for, respond to, cope with and recover from major crises. Since 1996 he has worked with companies and governments in the Far East, Central Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the United Kingdom. He chaired the Business Continuity Institute between 2010-2012 and served as a trustee of the Cothill Educational Trust between 2003-2013.
Sekhar Bahadur fly fishes in the UK and around the world and teaches fly casting professionally. He holds advanced Single and Double Handed instructor qualifications from both Fly Fishers International and the Game Angling Instructors’ Association. Sekhar worked as an investment banker for more than 30 years in New York and London and is now a London-based consultant. He is a former Trustee of the University of Chicago.
Richard Elliott's business background in private equity backed and quoted fibre networking businesses has left him with a broad knowledge of the communications industry, particularly of national and international data networks.
He has also spent eleven years in a City investment bank and nine in the 4th/7th Dragoon Guards, a regiment that recruited primarily from Yorkshire. Other trustee roles include the Institute of Cancer Research and the Balcarres Heritage Trust.
"I believe passionately in the mental and physical benefit of sport and of fishing in particular. Perhaps it’s the peace of a lake or river or being outdoors, without question though, when you know the fish might take, your mind is focussed on nothing else".
Like my lifelong friend Mick May, I’m a proud Northumbrian.
Lara May is the eldest child of Mick's and undoubtedly the least qualified trustee when it comes to fishing experience. What she lacks in ability, she makes up for in her desire to continue the great work of her father and contribute to this excellent cause.
Lara has worked for seven years in sports marketing, focusing on F1, American Football and Tennis (no fishing yet). She is based in London, living close to her mother, Jill, and five siblings, all of whom feel deeply about the work of the Cancer and Pisces trust.