Sadly, we lost our friend and Secretary, Fred Lancaster earlier this year. Fred was always present at Club meetings and work parties over very many years and is sorely missed. This is a tribute to him and his dedication to the Blenheim over all those years.
Fred was Secretary of the Blenheim Angling Society for almost fifty years. He joined the club in the 1960’s and joined the Committee in April 1971, taking on many of the different officer positions, but most significantly as Secretary, which he was extremely well known and respected for amongst the angling fraternity. Over the years the club met at various different venues around West London and there were often general meetings or committee meetings almost every week, but Fred was always there. Fred was also active in supporting bodies like the Angling Trust, Colne Valley Fisheries Consultative, GUSAC, TVAA and the London Anglers Association.
Fred’s favourite fishing activity was trotting a float down the river using his trusty centrepin reel. He fished some of the best rivers in the country over the years, the Hampshire Avon was a favourite. Fred belonged to several syndicates over the years and enjoyed some great days fishing. On one occasion he had more than twenty Barbel in a single day. The Colne Brook was also a favourite and he fished it many times over the years, even writing a history of the river for club members. He also enjoyed fly fishing, and enjoyed going for a day’s fishing with his great friends John and Keith at Rockbourne.
In the 1970’s and ‘80’s the club was very well supported with several hundred members and matches every other week or so, regardless of the time of year or weather. The Annual Dinner Dance was very popular, with the Annual awards and presentations made during the evening. The club trophies were displayed on a long table and after a lot of polishing they looked magnificent. There was always a dance band and a good time was had by all.
Over the last ten years Fred spent more time on work parties than he did fishing. Along with Howard and Richard he spent many days at Wraysbury helping to maintain the equipment and mowing the grass around Cargill Lake and along the Colne Brook. Things got very busy when it was decided to erect Otter Fencing around the lake and the fence line needed all the trees cleared, big and small, and this when Fred was already in his mid-80’s. Fred would always arrive with sausage rolls, pork pies and coffee so that they could enjoy a break during the morning and discuss club business.
Fred had the energy and strength of a much younger man, usually leading the way and directing the work, but always taking care to consider other people around him and not asking anyone to do things they weren’t comfortable with.
No club ever had a more dedicated Secretary and mentor.