HELEN Dagnall’s former Lymm High School French teacher will be very proud.

Mrs Ormond was persistent in encouraging Helen, the former Cheshire Angling shop owner in Latchford, to sign up for the school fishing team 30-odd years ago.

But even she surely could not have imagined then that it would have led to one of Warrington’s finest ever match anglers being crowned champion of the world this summer.

Helen, 45, who is now employed at Newton Tackle and Baits in Earlestown, secured the individual title in Serbia 12 days ago after 22 years of trying.

She returned to her Padgate home that had been decorated in congratulatory banners, balloons and flowers thanks to her nephew, and there was a champagne reception for her at work and a constant stream of phone calls from well-wishers.

Helen, who was crowned Warrington Sports Personality of 2003 after winning the second of her four world team titles with England, is delighted with the acclaim while feeling humble about the achievement.

“I have put the time and effort in over the years and I’m over the moon for winning, but I would have liked the team gold,” said Helen, a member of Warrington Anglers’ Association who competes in national leagues with Yorkshire team Browning Offett.

“You go out there as a team and you want to win a team medal – and then the individual comes as a bonus when you’ve done the job for the team.

“We all work together, get a plan together and we’re all one really.”

Warrington Guardian: Helen Dagnall with her world championship trophy and medalHelen Dagnall with her world championship trophy and medal (Image: Contributed)

But this is her time in the spotlight, having wiped the floor with her rivals over two days in the 29th Coarse Angling Ladies World Championship on Canal Dunavac, an arm of the River Danube, in Apatin.

Although she drew on three points with Poland’s Kamila Kowalska Justa, a tally worked out from first and second-place finishes in their sections, Helen’s overall catch weight of 17.480kg far exceeded her rival’s 12.430kg.

Helen mainly focused on ‘long-line’ tactics, using a 11.5 metre pole with feed and bait presentation following a method the England team had rehearsed.

This resulted in her catching a variety of little skimmers (bream), carassio (crucian carp), pommies (bitterling), roach and bleak plus two little catfish, the latter a surprise because they had not shown themselves in the week’s practice.

Her second day of the match was particularly productive, weighing in 10.930kg to win her section of the canal which had dropped its level by three feet in the time they were there.

“That day was probably the best one I’ve ever fished – nothing went wrong, I never hooked my net, I never had to change a hook whereas the day before I changed about 20 hooks,” she said.

“It was a lovely day’s fishing that only started to die in the last half hour.”

Warrington Guardian: Helen Dagnall with her two days of catchesHelen Dagnall with her two days of catches (Image: Contributed)

Warrington Guardian:

Safe to say, fishing is her life.

“I work fishing and my pleasure is fishing,” said Helen.

“I feel lost if I don’t go fishing. When I have a Sunday off, I think it’s boring.”

She became hooked as a nipper.

“I started sea fishing when I was four years old,” said Helen, whose parents John and Dot were keen on the sport and helped her to run the Cheshire Angling shop that she owned in Thelwall Lane until they passed away four and seven years ago, respectively.

“We used to have a caravan in Anglesey and then Nefyn, and I sea-fished all the way up until I was about 13.

“I used to go carping and piking, and pleasure fishing with my dad and my brother, and sea fishing with my mum when we were at the caravan.

“Then when I was at high school there was a school team. My dad was plastering my French teacher’s house and she told him to tell me to put my name down.

“I did, but I didn’t get picked that year because the lad’s dad who ran it thought ‘Oh, a girl!’

“I put my name down again the year after because Mrs Ormond, the French teacher, was going on about it.

“I got picked, and that’s how I started fishing for Warrington Anglers’ Association Juniors. Back then it was massive, we had matches every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and we had two or three teams going.

“That was the start of my match fishing and I’ve never looked back.

“Funnily enough, when Mrs Ormond had her son, I got him into fishing as well. I think he still does a bit and I think he lives in Nantwich now. I think she still lives in Antrobus with her husband Garth.”

Warrington Guardian: Helen Dagnall with her partner and England team manager, Dave BrooksHelen Dagnall with her partner and England team manager, Dave Brooks (Image: Contributed)

Next year’s world championships will take place in Portugal and Helen hopes to defend her title.

“We’ll have England team trials again, so if I get picked I will defend my title,” she said.

“It might be another 23 years before winning comes around again. Hopefully not, because I don’t think I’ll be in the team then.”

The England team is not sponsored and Helen expressed her gratitude to her boss for the time off and to all those who contributed to the fundraising effort that allowed her and her teammates to compete.