As we go to print, the Canal and River Trust’s National Celebration event is almost upon us and, with support from ATA members, the 2023 event is set to break all records with over 350 entries.
To give it its full title, the National Celebration of Young People is now a regular event that has grown from very humble origins to become the annual junior event in the UK.
The National Celebration final is held every year on the third weekend of September, with this year’s event staged on the Shropshire Union canal near Hinstock on the 16th and 17th.
The format of the Celebration covers several age categories giving representation to all junior engineers across all abilities and backgrounds. The youngest category is Cadets aged seven to 10 years (on the day of the event, six-year-olds many participate if they have an elder sibling also participating); Young juniors aged 11 and 12; Full juniors aged 13 to 15 and Youth aged 16 to 20 on the day of the event.
Everyone who participates in the Celebration events takes home a medal or trophy, a goody bag and special event certificate. There are also prizes on offer including a Gudgeon mug, if you are skilful enough to land a gudgeon, during the event.
Winning prizes and / or being crowned champion are part of the attraction but, with contestants ranging from absolute beginners to serious match anglers, the emphasis on taking part is paramount and, thanks to the efforts of the C&RT team, something that every person aged between seven and 20 is now able to do.
The aim is to make sure participants have a positive experience, learn something new, and importantly wherever possible, land a few fish. Forming new friendships with likeminded people promotes the urge to come back and statistics prove this fact. Many Celebration attendees return to continue their angling journey, improve their skills and go on to join angling clubs often with friends and family in tow.
Both the National Celebration events and C&RT’s Let’s Fish programme now have proven track records in terms of young angler development and are attracting increasing amounts of trade support each year as their success grows.