A DAREDEVIL Essex fisherman swapped his rods for skis after his wife splashed out on a ski instructor course for his 50th birthday.

Dedicated angler Kevin Powell spends 180 nights of the year by the side of an old gravel pit at Cowlands farm fishery near Braintree.

The self-employed builder from Loughton has travelled the world hunting for record-breaking catches, but discovered a passion for skiing along the away.

And thanks to his wife Jennifer, in January he enrolled on a five-week course with the Winter Sports Company at top Canadian snow sports destination, Sun Peaks Resort.

Swapping his waders and fisherman’s friends for ski boots and thermals, Kevin, 50, became a Level 1 ski instructor and can now teach novice skiers at resorts across the world.

Instead of plundering the depths of Cowlands fishery, where huge carps Marlene and Boycie are the biggest catches weighing in at 40lbs plus, he spent his days speeding down ski slopes and taking on world-famous slalom runs.

Kevin said: “It was an amazing way to celebrate half a century. I stayed in a top hotel, right on the slopes, and was taught by an elite team of trainers.

“But the course was so much more than that. I made some wonderful friends, skied on some of the steepest mogul runs I’ve ever seen and at the grand age of 50 had the best winter of my life”

Now when he’s not in the builders yard, or dangling his rod in the nearest pond, he can jet off to countries all over the world to work as a ski instructor.

Kevin is now planning a summer full of fishing, but come winter he may jet back to British Columbia to try for his level 2 qualification.

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