Suicidal man from Clayton-le-Moors saved by love of angling

Burnley and Pendle Citizen: Steven with one of his catches Steven with one of his catches

A VOLUNTEER from Clayton-le-Moors has been honoured with an award after turning his life around.

Steven Leeming overcame depression and feelings of hopelessness to receive the European Social Fund Individual Award in the North West, as part of Adult Learners’ Week held later this month.

Six years ago Steven, affectionately known as ‘Mr Fish’, said he was suicidal after the death of his best friend and fishing buddy.

But in 2010, he was introduced to Mercer House 1942 where he was encouraged to share his angling passion with others.

He taught himself IT skills, emergency first aid, and studied canals. He went on to launch a fishing group called the ‘Clayton Scalers’, earning himself his nickname.

The 60-year-old said: “I have a purpose again to go out fishing and to have the chance to teach others is great. It's built up my self-confidence again and it's all through Mercer House.” Ally Hodgson, who nominated Steve, said: “Mr Fish’s dedication to the group and to his own personal life changing journey is a testament to how learning and volunteering are complimentary activities which enhance individuals greatly.”

And Angus Gray, from the Department for Work and Pensions, added: “I am pleased that the European Social Fund is again supporting Adult Learners’ Week.

“I am sure that many more people will be encouraged to take up learning after reading the inspirational stories of this year’s winners, like Steven.’’ Adult Learners’ Week is held from June 14 to 20, and celebrates the power of lifelong learning through activities and events.

The Festival of Learning, which takes place throughout May and June, will give individuals, families, communities and workplaces the opportunity to take part in activities and celebrate learning achievements.

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