Chapel-en-le-Frith author wants to encourage girls to take up fishing

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An author and amateur fisherman from Chapel-en-le-Frith has dedicated his new children's book to his sister to promote inclusivity in the sport.

Oliver Sykes says when he was growing up in the early 2000s, only the boys in his family were taken fishing. The 34-year-old regularly fished throughout his childhood along with his male cousins and brothers Lloyd, Alex and Duncan.

But whilst single dad Chris often took his four older boys out to catch their dinner in the River Dane, near Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, younger sisters Amber and Jordanna remained at home with babysitters.

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Oliver's new book for children, called Fishing for Rainbows, which launched at Manchester's Central Library at the end of June, features a female hero who saves the day and proves wholeheartedly that girls can fish too.

Oliver Sykes has a new book out aimed at young girls and getting them into fishing. Pic submittedOliver Sykes has a new book out aimed at young girls and getting them into fishing. Pic submitted
Oliver Sykes has a new book out aimed at young girls and getting them into fishing. Pic submitted

He said: “Fishing has always been a big part of my life. I have strong and happy memories of river fishing for perch, pike and carp in Buxton, Chapel-en-le-Frith and Combs.

"Perhaps it never crossed Dad's mind that the girls, who were younger than the boys, might want to come too! Or perhaps he thought that, being younger, they would get bored, make noise and scare away the fish? I don't think Jordanna, the youngest, was that bothered and she probably had better things to do with her time, but my sister Amber has told me that she always felt left out.

"At the time, I never really thought about it. It wasn't until years later when she told me how sad it made her, that I felt bad and wanted to do something about it. I wrote this story for her and for all girls who know they can do more."

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In the fully illustrated story, which is suitable for children aged 7-12, Kezia Boswell and her twin brothers Duke and Danior are growing up in a single dad family after the death of their mum.

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Oliver Sykes has a new book aimed at young girls and getting them into fishing. Pic submittedOliver Sykes has a new book aimed at young girls and getting them into fishing. Pic submitted
Oliver Sykes has a new book aimed at young girls and getting them into fishing. Pic submitted

While her brothers regularly fish with their dad, 12-year-old Kezia stays at home, cooking and cleaning, until one day she is called upon to prove what she can really do with a fishing rod.

Oliver, who recently moved to North Wales, continued to fish as he grew older, enjoying deep sea fishing further afield in Scarborough, Anglesey and Mallorca. But he once almost found himself on the wrong side of the law.

He said: "Me and my mate found what we thought was the most amazing fishing spot, but unfortunately it turned out to be a trout farm! We got a proper telling off by the owner, who accused us of poaching."

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Fishing For Rainbows, Oliver's second book, is illustrated by Georgina Reynolds, and published by Manchester Metropolitan University and writing/outreach organisation Stories of Care.

To encourage more young people into reading 500 copies will be gifted to children from low income, single-parent and care-experienced backgrounds.

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This book may only have been out for a few weeks but has already attracted the attention of a children’s theatre network, Big Imaginations, which has already commissioned Oliver to produce a one-person show based on the story.

It will be Directed by award-winning poet Dominic Berry, AKA Dommy B, and supported by Z-Arts, Touchstones, Wild Rumpus and Arts Council England, the show will tour in 2024. You can buy Fishing For Rainbows at oliver-sykes.com for £7.99

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