The Mitchell-Hedges Special Award

After 62 years of waiting, today on the 3rd December 2017 the SACGB presented the Mitchell-Hedges Special Award which was a challenge laid down by the clubs first President, Frank Albert Mitchell-Hedges.


Although Mitchell-Hedges is well known within shark angling circles being an adventurer, traveler and writer he is equally well known in other areas. One of his most widely known achievements is the crystal skull which he and his daughter allegedly found in a Mayan ruin in the 1920’s.   There are many crystal skulls but this one is highly polished and very detailed with a moving lower jaw


Since his death and the death of his daughter scientists have shown the skull wasn’t as old as they claimed so we think he was a bit of an Indiana Jones character who was well versed in the art of self-promotion.

Certainly, a character that most shark anglers could have enjoyed a pint with.


In 1953 he presented the club with the Mitchell Hedges Trophy which is awarded annually to the member catching and releasing the best shark of the season.


The trophy was also used with the bank to secure a loan to start the club in 1953.


He also gave the club the Sammy Porbeagle Trophy which is awarded annually for the best Porbeagle caught and released by a member. The history behind that trophy is on the website.


It would be fair to conclude that from our perspective he was an all-round good guy who certainly had the clubs best interest at heart.


In 1955, 62 years ago Mitchell-Hedges suggested a one off challenge for the first blue shark of 250lbs or over.  At the time the Blue Shark record was 130 lbs and held by Mr Harry Whiddett so this was quite a challenge.


The winner of the challenge was to receive a personal trophy which Mitchell-Hedges provided, and the boatman concerned was to receive a Mitchell-Hedges cheque for £25.


This proposal was made on his behalf on the 15th October 1955 by R Roberts who gave the club the R C Roberts trophy for the heaviest qualifier of the season and seconded by J Holmes who gave the club the JJ Holmes trophy for best shark of the season by a member from Sussex.

The proposal was carried.


Although the £25 cheque can be seen in the club accounts for a number of years it has long since gone.


The trophy was held by Pat Case until Mitchell Hedges death in June 1959.  At that time there was a disagreement between the club and Anna Mitchell-Hedges and the trophy was never seen again by the club.


The challenge or the Mitchell-Hedges Special Award as it became known remained and for 62 years anglers have had it in their sights.


Earlier this year, the SACGB were planning to re-promote the Mitchell Hedges Special Award when news came in of John Dines big blue which was caught and released aboard Chippy’s boat in Penzance.


The video evidence received was examined by the committee and the dimensions confirmed. Using the formula Johns shark calculated weight came in at 256.5lbs and therefore became the British Measured and Released Record for Blue Shark


However as well as achieving the record both he and Robin Chapman (Chippy) had jointly won the Mitchell-Hedges Special Award.


Following in the spirit of Mitchell Hedges, the club have now laid down a new challenge.


The challenge is for the catch and release of a 350lb or more, Blue Shark. The member and skipper involved will each be awarded a commemorative trophy.


This brings a list of new challenges for the sharking community to overcome. Do we bring a shark that big aboard, if not how do we measure it etc.


Lots to think about but I am confident that the sharking community will come up with the correct answers to these questions and that the welfare of the shark will remain the highest priority.


Today, sharking history was made as John Dines and Chippy were presented with the Mitchell-Hedges Special Award.


John received a personal trophy and a framed copy of the original minutes when the challenge was proposed and accepted.

Chippy also received a framed copy of the original minutes and £25 in notes from the period.


John was also presented with a certificate to confirm he is the current holder of the British Measured and Released Record for Blue Shark.