Lesley Crawford passed away suddenly but peacefully while being transferred to Raigmore Hospital, Inverness on Tuesday 28 December, she was 57. Lesley had a lifelong passion for trout fishing which she developed when she moved to the far north of Scotland over 25 years ago. A skilled angler, she was also a talented instructor and holiday guide and was a regular contributor to the angling and mainstream press as well as TV and radio angling programmes. Among her half-a-dozen books have been: Trout Fishing in the UK and Ireland – Techniques and Tactics, Trout Talk, Fishing for Wild Trout in Scottish Lochs and Scotland’s Classic Wild Trout Waters. Lesley was for several years a demonstrator at the annual CLA Game Fair and a guide for groups on trout fishing breaks in the far north. She had a particular aptitude for teaching children and novices. In 2002, she was invited to France by Team Japan and again in Scotland in 2009 to be its technical adviser at the World Fly Fishing Championships. She was an instructor accredited by the Scottish Anglers National Association and the Register of Experienced Fly Fishing Instructors. A keen photographer, she developed an extensive library of fishing scenes and landscapes throughout Scotland.
Lesley was a long-standing columnist of the John O’Groat Journal and her contributions over the years both delighted and informed those in the angling fraternity and readers in general. Her knowledge of the sport was evident and her enthusiasm for it shone through in her writing. National angling expert and writer, Geoffrey Bucknall, a long-standing friend said: “I admired her for making a reputation in our sexist sport. She gained tremendous respect for achieving great progress as a talented fly fishing woman in this male-dominated pursuit. She did so much for youngsters and was always full of life. She made an impact in that world with her books and activities. Whenever I sat down to send her a message, one word always came to mind about her personality and that was ‘bubbly’. I always thought of Lesley as bubbly, filled with life, enthusiasm for fishing and the good things she did for other folk. She was very happy to catch those salmon in the Forss. She was always such a bundle of energy, I could scarcely keep up with her along the banks of the lochs. The world will be an emptier place for us.”
Born in São Paulo, Brazil in 1953 where her father was the South American sales representative for the textiles firm Coats, the family moved to Glasgow a few years later where Lesley grew up and graduated from Strathclyde University with a BA in Hotel and Catering Management. Subsequently she worked in the university Staff Club. She had great determination and amongst her achievements was playing table tennis at international level for Scotland being the ladies Scottish Champion on at least one occasion. Her passion for angling was kindled by her father during early family holidays based in Brora. She married Ron, a research chemist and keen mountaineer, in 1981 and moved north first of all to Aberdeen then to Caithness when he started work at Dounreay in 1984. Besides angling her other interests and driving passions included charity work, golf, playing and collecting folk music, foreign travel, Thurso Rotary Club, writing, following rugby union, and photography. She is also survived by her two sons, Andrew and Ewan.
In a recent article she wrote: “At the day’s end I would very reluctantly drag myself away, unwilling to return to the more humdrum aspects of life. Perhaps becoming more realistic now about what fishing achieves for the individual’s psyche is an age thing, a maturing of outlook perhaps. But then again, anglers are still the biggest bunch of over-enthusiastic kids I know. When it comes down to it maybe it is more to do with having fun rather than actually escaping from a troubled world. Modern society is so overly complicated with communication technology; fishing brings an unfussy relief because of its simplicity. It’s just pure fun and long may we enjoy it…”
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