Saturday 2nd March marked the culmination of the SMAC and SMAC Fishing Year – the Presentation of Awards! Members and guests crowded in to the Marina Bar, lured I expect by a free drink and the Big Raffle. By the start of the ceremonies the room was rammed. After a welcome by SMAC Chairman Steve Kelly, SMDAC Chairman John Wearn thanked everyone in both clubs who had contributed so much to our enjoyment in the past season. We had a lot to get through including some very special guests – more of that below. I’ll list the prize winners in turn, with a carousel of photos below each section.

First up was SMDAC, and prizes were presented by John Wearn:

  • Best Cod (or whiting) on Lady Elsa: John Calton
  • Best Specimen (Undulate Ray 15lb): Frank Chatfield
  • Most Species: Frank Chatfield
  • Silver Fish Cup: John Calton
  • Largest Fish From Lakes (Mirror Carp 24lb 4oz): John Wearn
  • Mixed Lakes Cup: Frank Chatfield
  • George Dominy Memorial Shield: Frank Chatfield
  • Pier and Beach Cup: Ben Munday
  • Combination Cup: Frank Chatfield
  • Champion Runner-Up: John Calton
  • Club Champion: Frank Chatfield

Or loyal band of helpers from SMDAC also folded 1,223 raffle tickets while they were waiting!

We then had a bit of a catch-up of monthly prizes and Angling Trust Specimen Fish Certificates which were presented by Rupert Bremmer from Southsea Marina:

  • Luke Scott – Fish Of The Month (Brill 3lb 4oz – August)
  • Kev Johnson – Fish Of The Month (12lb Bass – January)
  • Mark Banks – Specimen Bream
  • Stuart Newall – Specimen Bream
  • Neil Glazier – Specimen Undulate Ray
  • Peter Kinchin – Specimen Smoothhound

The next round of awards were for the SMAC annual cups also presented by Rupert, plus a new award which I’ll leave to the end because it is rather special.

  • Pollack Cup: Darren Price
  • Turbot/Brill Cup: Steve Tambling
  • Ladies Cup: Eleanor Atkins
  • Junior Cup: Jack Dickson
  • Catch & Release Cup: Peter Kinchin
  • Best Specimen: Kev Johnson
  • Species Hunt: Joint Winners Peter Churchill and Dan Lumsden
  • Junior Species: Jack Dickson
  • Ladies Species: Pam Eskersall
    (and it was Pam’s birthday so we all sang Happy Birthday)
  • Cod Pool: Runner up Tim Andrews, winner Dan Lumsden
  • Nelson Mandela Cup: Shared between Ray Plomer, Luke Scott, Peter Churchill and Dan Lumsden
  • Open Cod, Best Placed Member: Richard Pack
  • Open Species, Best Placed Member: Peter Churchill
  • Open Bream, Best Placed Member: Steve Tambling
  • Plaice Cup: Dan Lumsden
  • Bream Cup: Stuart Newall
  • Bass Cup: Kev Johnson
  • Cod Cup: Dan Lumsden
  • Pairs Cup: Dan Lumsden and Steve Tambling
  • Runner Up Club Champion: Mark Banks
  • Club Champion: Dan Lumsden

There was one familiar face (and voice) that was sadly missed at this Presentation Night – Bill Arnold, who passed away last year. However, great friends may be gone but they are never forgotten, and Bill will stay with us through a new Bill Arnold Memorial Trophy. This will be awarded to the member who has made a significant contribution in some way during the season. The trophy itself was made by Peter Kinchin from Bill’s old reel, Bill’s old oak and bronze bearings from Kev Johnson. We were very honoured to have Bill’s Mum, sister Mary and brother Eddie with us to present the prize. After a very moving speech from Mary in which she thanked the club for giving Bill such enjoyment and company over the years, she then awarded the trophy to Luke Scott.

On 11th November, Luke was out fishing when he noticed smoke coming from a 58-foot power boat. He raced over at full throttle and was just in time to help the two crew members who had scrambled into a partly inflated life raft. Luke was able to pull them away from the blazing powerboat and kept the casualties calm until the RNLI arrived on scene to take over.  This dramatic rescue was later covered by local TV news. Luke certainly deserves recognition for his bravery in this rescue and I’m sure Bill would have been very proud that Luke was awarded the Bill Arnold Memorial Trophy this year.

Finally, after a break for more drinks, pizza and chips we reassembled for the final event of the evening: The Big Raffle. Dan Lumsden and Eleanor Atkins had done a wonderful job raising £1,223.00 in ticket sales and of course this was only possible through the generosity of all those present. We had a great prize table, from club hats to rods and reels plus prizes donated from SMDAC, British Big Game Fishing and John Jones.

It was a fabulous evening and it was great to celebrate all the successes and share happy memories from the past season. Steve Kelly did an amazing job of both organising the event and compering. The Marina Bar staff provided warm and patient hospitality and all members and guests joined in to make it a very memorable Presentation Night 2024.

Now the dials are set back to zero and it’s all to play for through the next season!