A GROUP of fishermen friends have braved chilly waters, strange looks and plenty of ‘tackle’ and ‘rod’ innuendoes to strip off for a Huntingdon charity.

A GROUP of fishermen friends have braved chilly waters, strange looks and plenty of ‘tackle’ and ‘rod’ innuendoes to strip off for a Huntingdon charity.

The group of nine anglers dispensed of their waterproofs and wellies, but kept their fishing lines close at hand for the ‘Calendar Girls’-inspired naked calendar in aid of Huntingdon MS Therapy Centre and the East Anglian Air Ambulance.

The Bare(ly) Fishing calendar marks 25 years since the death of keen fisherman Chris Markillie, Mr Markillie formerly of Wisbech. was killed when a fishing rod he was assembling in his front garden struck an overhead power line.

His friend and neighbour Mark Bodger has raised money for the air ambulance since Mr Markillie’s death, but this year the 51-year-old was keen to help the MS Therapy Centre as he and wife, Bridget, an MS sufferer, have become regular visitors to the Mayfield Road facility.

Mr Bodger said: “We come here on a casual basis, but I think everyone who is diagnosed with MS should be made to come here. There are all sorts of alternative therapies, such as the oxygen tank, reflexology, shiatsu massage, turning tables, chair aerobics - things that the NHS won’t provide.

“And it is good for the carers too. They get to get out of the house too.”

Mr Markillie had been married just a year and his wife, Debbie, was six-months pregnant when the tragedy happened on July 9 1986 at his Parson Drove home.

An angling club set up by Mr Markillie and Mr Bodger was disbanded, but since the first anniversary of Mr Markillie’s death, former members have come together for an annual angling competition at Willowcroft Fishery Complex in Mr Markillie’s memory.

More than 30 anglers took part in this year’s event on September 10 which raised £2,000 for the two good causes. Handing out the winner’s trophy was Mr Markillie’s sister Carol Bunning.

A raffle held on the day with prizes donated by firms in March, Wisbech and Peterborough, added £500 towards the total.

Funds from the sale of the calendar, which is available to buy from the MS Therapy Centre, will also be split between the two causes.

Mr Bodger said: “The fundraising we do would not be possible without the help of fishery owner ‘Bob’ Foreman. Not only did he allow us to take the photos, he also waives the match fees for all our charity fishing events to remember our friend Chris Markillie. With Bob’s help over the years, we have raised thousands of pounds for charity. Long may this continue.”

Thanks were also given to all the local businesses who provided sponsorship for the calendar and raffle prizes.

INFORMATION: If you can help with next year’s fundraising e-mail Mr Bodger at markbodger260@msn.com.