This year’s Toot Hill Great Rod Race, part of the Bingham school’s activities’ week, was a bittersweet affair for the 20 pupils in attendance.
Fishing fan and regular ‘Rod Race’ competitor Jack Archer was missing – he was tragically killed last year in a hit and run. Jack, 14, was clipped by a car overtaking too close to his bike as he rode through Bingham. The driver, who left him for dead, handed himself in to police and was later sentenced to three years and four months in prison.
To honour Jack, who lived in nearby Newton, his parents, in association with Toot Hill School, introduced a special award to the ‘Rod Race’ – the Jack Archer Memorial Cup, which would be presented to the pupil who demonstrated outstanding perseverance and determination throughout the entire event.
The winner, chosen by teachers and match-angling volunteers, was Ethan Cooney.
The event was held at Portland Fishing Lakes, near Newark, and was supported by several top local match anglers and sponsored by companies like Dynamite Baits, Shimano, Future Fishing and the fishing lakes.
Chris Ritzmann, a school activity leader, said: “The event runs Wednesday to Friday and then the following Monday. For me, Ethan won it on the Thursday, when the event was held on the Grantham Canal. It bucketed down all day and by the end only five children remained fishing, including Ethan, who didn’t have a single fish all day. But he told me that that just made him feel more determined to catch he following day.”
To help the event run smoothly, several top local match anglers attend the event. As well as helping the children set up their tackle and showing them how to catch fish, they also helped to organise the bumper pile of prizes kindly donated by event sponsors.
The event allows students of all abilities to experience fishing and all that goes with it – patience and an appreciation of the countryside.
“I’m not an angler myself, but I’m proud to have been involved with the Rod Race for the last decade,” Chris added.
“Over the years, we have been able to introduce more than 200 pupils to the joys of this great sport. As well as the ‘experts’, Mark Perkins, his Brother Rob, Neil Fisher, Gerald King, Dave Scott and my fellow Toot Hill teacher Mr Lawrence, I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all the sponsors who gave around £1,000 each in various prizes to be given out the children.
“It has been a really great event once again, I only wish young Jack could have been with us.”