Inspiring the next generation of fishery scientists

Vicky Deward-Fowler, a first class honours degree student from Exeter University is the first person to be presented with the Anne Voss Bark Memorial Award, which has been established in memory of this remarkable river conservationist, fly fishing expert and for many years proprietor of the famous Arundell Arms Hotel in Lifton, Devon.

This outstanding award has been set up by the Salmon & Trout Association in collaboration with the Arundell Arms, now run by Anne's son, Adam Fox-Edwards. It was launched this year in memory of Anne Voss Bark, and offers a young fisheries/aquatic student an unbeatable experience working with the Hotel's fishing guides for a week, and then a further week with the West Country Rivers Trust learning both catchment management and water science from the Trust's leading river scientists. In addition the winning recipient receives a £500 bursary from the Salmon & Trout Association.

Anne Voss Bark was a dedicated conservationist and her love of fly-fishing made her aware of changes in the countryside detrimental to our rivers and fish. She worked tirelessly to see this demise reversed. Anne was a strong supporter of the Salmon & Trout Association, the only UK fisheries campaigning charity. She was a Council Member, Vice Chairman and finally Vice President of the charity. Anne, with others, also founded the West Country Rivers Trust, embracing the concept of total river management. Anne will also always be well-remembered as the perfect hostess at the Arundell Arms in Lifton, Devon, which was rather run down on acquisition but developed by her over nearly 50 years into today's eminent fishing and country sports hotel.

The inaugural award this year was presented at a superb reception, hosted by Adam Fox-Edwards at the Arundell Arms Hotel, to Vicky Dewar-Fowler aged 23 from Holmfirth, West Yorkshire. Vicky a biological sciences graduate at Exeter University will be starting work on an MSc in Exeter in September. Vicky was thrilled to be presented with the award and as part of her prize she will also enjoy a two week stay at the Arundell Arms while learning to fish and working with the West Country Rivers Trust.

Vicky was awarded the prize for her work studying the effects of copper deposits and low oxygen levels on fish. In her winning entry she said, "I will relish the opportunity presented here to gain a greater knowledge of UK freshwater systems and learn a wide variety of skills. I feel that this opportunity will enhance my career prospects and equip me with the knowledge and skills needed to help aid in the conservation of many fish species. I have previous field work experience and am not afraid to get cold and wet!"

The launch of this special memorial award was held at the Arundell Arms in Devon and was attended by many people from the world of river conservation and angling.

Dr Janina Gray, Head of Science and Environment Policy for the Salmon & Trout Association, said, "We are delighted to present this very special annual award in memory of Anne Voss Bark. It gives us great pleasure to encourage the next generation of fishery scientists. It is not an easy career path to follow but we hope this award will give people like Vicky an opportunity to further develop their skills as well as encouraging them to pursue a career path that is both immensely satisfying as well as inspiring them to protect our precious aquatic environments in the future."