The one where the waders were the warmest
Love was in the air, rubbish was in the river, it was time for the Wandle Trust Valentine’s Cleanup!
This month we returned to Poulter Park in Sutton on a very cold February morning. The park has always provided an impressive cleanup haul, with 200 tyres back in 2015 and 5 industrial freezers in 2016. So we couldn’t wait to see what the Wandle had for us this Valentine’s.
After the usual health and safety briefing, we got started. The waders divided into two teams: one to tackle the main river and one to head to Watermead Lane to tackle a faster flowing stretch of water which always gathers rubbish.
To begin with, it seemed like the river was fairly clean. The waders were taking a while to fill their trugs, and we were getting increasingly cold on the banks. It turns out it was warmer in the river, but it didn’t half smell bad!
Eventually we started to find rubbish: tyres (not 200 thankfully), a steering wheel and a BBQ.
In the depths of the silt, an oil drum was found. It took quite a few of us to get it up on the bank, and then we had to let some of the silt out before we had the strength to get it to the path and to the rubbish pile.
In the undergrowth, the students from Richmond University found a stash of wooden planks. With keen eyes, they also discovered two motorbikes that had been burnt in the undergrowth.
As lunchtime came around we were all freezing cold and ready for a cup of tea. The Richmond University students had baked for us again, and they put on an amazing Valentines’-themed spread. We had heart shaped cookies, ladybird biscuits, red velvet cupcakes and chocolate muffins!
Even with cups of tea and coffee, standing around in the bitter north-east wind was only making us colder, so we got back to work very quickly. The long-distance wading team had returned with a car seat, and had assembled a pile of rubbish including money safes, a fridge and 3 more tyres before they rejoined the main party.
Our waders continued through the park finding 3 coconuts – classic!
A nice cup of concrete to warm me up..
And a mystery object that was buried so deep in the silt that even Phil had to give up on it. And Phil never gives up….
Finally, we found a chimney stack and we were done for the day!
So what did we find? 1 wheelchair, 1 BBQ, 1 oil drum, 1 set of wooden steps, 1 carpet (that I saw, probably more), 1 car seat, 1 chimney stack, 1 dustbin lid, 1 pram frame, 1 steering wheel, 1 fridge, 1 car wheel clamp, 2 burnt motorbikes/scooters, 2 mattresses, 3 coconuts, 4 footballs, 8 tyres and bags and bags of other rubbish.
Huge thanks to Thames Water for funding this event, everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Wally for supervising the Event Tent, the Students at Richmond University for baking, and the Waste Team at Sutton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.
Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Aaron, Andy, Ann, Chris, Claire, Dalana, Dave, Derek, Emma, Estella, Florence, Guy, Hannah, Ian, James, Joe, Kaitlyn, Kathy, Leah, Macie, Marcus, Mariam, Nick, Phil, Rob, Sally, Steve, Stewart, Theo, Tim, Tom, Victor, Wally, Wayne, Will and Zak.
So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup? That sometimes, 3 pairs of socks, 1 long sleeved vest, 2 jumpers, a fleece and my knitted hat, is not enough to stay warm!