'Phenomenal' response to fisherman's TV challenge
A LOOE couple have been inundated with messages of support after fisherman Andy Giles appeared on TV fishing in Sierra Leone.
BBC Two's Toughest Place To Be ... A Fisherman, saw Mr Giles spend two weeks with a fishing community in Mania.
Andy and his wife Leigh have been inundated with messages of support and offers of help from across the country and all sectors of the fishing industry.
Keen to support Mania and surrounding villages, Mrs Giles set up a Justgiving fundraising page to help direct the support and goodwill.
"The immediate response generated by the BBC Two programme, not only in fishing communities but also the wider general public, was truly amazing," said Mrs Giles.
"As the wife of the fisherman that experienced first-hand the challenges faced by traditional fishing families in Sierra Leone, I was determined to channel the response into a heartfelt appeal, the results of which in such a small timescale are phenomenal."
Within a few days of setting up the Justgiving link, more than £1,500 had been donated towards the initial target figure of £10,000. The money will be used to support the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) and Christian Aid.
EJF works with fishing communities in the Sherbro River area of Sierra Leone to document and stop pirate fishing by foreign industrial vessels, as Mr Giles witnessed.
The EJF will use the donations to create a marine protected area which will record trawler activity and report the information back to the Government in Freetown so illegally-caught fish can be blocked from being sold to the EU – their biggest source of income.
Christian Aid helps fund new, better fishing equipment and other projects to help fishing communities.
"Both of these charities we feel are so important to support the people of Mania that welcomed Andy into their community," said Mrs Giles.
"Andy will never forget the experience that he had, or his new-found friends. He plans to go back to see the changes that have been made."
"Creating a Facebook group too resulted in well over 1,000 members joining almost immediately."
To donate, visit www.justgiving.com/teams/toughestplacetobe or text ANDY 71 and the amount, to 70070. To join the Facebook group, visit www.facebook.com/groups/296900657032616.