Tag Archives: Living Wandle Landscape Partnership

Guardians of the River Wandle

For the last two years, our famous Wandle Trust cleanups have been supported by the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership, a Heritage Lottery Funded scheme all about connecting people to the River Wandle.

The project was called River Guardians and it aimed to run safe and enjoyable events, while raising awareness about the pollution issues our rivers face such as misconnected properties, urban run-off and fly-tipping – the last of which we physically tackled as a team at each event.

A leaflet was produced to highlight some everyday changes we could all make in their own homes to reduce pollution (pictured below) and how to report pollution when it’s spotted using the Environment Agency’s Incident Hotline – 0800 80 70 60.

Wandle and Pollution

So what did we achieve?

Over the two years, we held a total of 18 Wandle cleanups, spending over 2900 hours clearing rubbish from the Wandle. We would like to thank all the volunteers who joined us at our events – we couldn’t have achieved any of this without you. We would also like to thank our local councils (Wandsworth, Merton and Sutton) who organised the collection and safe disposal of the 58 tonnes of rubbish we pulled out over the course of the project!

Cleanup Summary

What’s next?

With the project now at an end, we are keen to gather some feedback from our volunteers to share with our funders, but also help shape our cleanup events in the future.

If you have attended a cleanup in the past (even if it was 8 years ago!) please take 5 minutes to complete our short survey.

Take the Cleanups Survey now!

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Floating Pennywort on the Wandle

Alan Martin, our Invasive Non-Native Species Officer, has been very busy this last growing season. Working with our trained River Rangers to map all invasive plants on the Wandle, and with the newly trained Hit Squad to start controlling them, we are making great progress.

One species we’ve had some great success with is floating pennywort. This aquatic invasive plant can be found along the river from Carshalton to Wandworth. Alan has developed and implemented a combined manual and chemical approach to tackle this species from its source in Sutton, and work until it is out of the river in Wandsworth. While this is going swimmingly, he has also looked at two sites on the Wandle where pennywort has a stronghold: Watermeads and Ravensbury Park.

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At Watermeads, the floating pennywort had infested a large backwater, a potentially key habitat for river wildlife with added aesthetic, recreational and ecological benefits. Working with the National Trust, Alan set to develop a management regime for this habitat to maintain it as an open water and keep pennywort at bay.

So how did we do it?

Manual Removal

To reduce overall biomass, several hand pulling events were held with volunteers from the National Trust and Wandle Trust – you may recall the epic Battle of Watermeads? Rafts of pennywort were cut away and towed to the bank using long grapple lines. The pennywort was then wheelbarrowed to a site away from the river where it would be left undisturbed to rot away.

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Foliar spraying

After reducing the initial biomass, herbicide was then used on the regrowth. With Environment Agency permission, Alan and Richard (from the National Trust) applied the first spray of herbicide in February this year.

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With this combined approach, open water was achieved!

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Continued monitoring

The secret to this work is that the work actually never stops. As long as there is a source of pennyworth on the Wandle, there is a risk the backwater could become re-infested. The local angling club at Watermeads and the National Trust volunteers have taken ownership of this site and continue to check for signs of pennywort, pulling out new plants. By keeping on top of it this way, it should never reach the scale it was back in 2015.

So what’s next?

Working with Merton Council and the Friends of Ravensbury Park, we are starting a similar management plan on the lake in Ravensbury Park which has been full of pennywort for years. Watch this space!

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Volunteers wanted to help find the source of the Wandle!

We’re ready to start hunting down the source of the Wandle through time, but we need some extra help – might you be interested?

As part of our new Discovering the Source of the Wandle project, we are looking for volunteers to help us with a variety of activities, all around researching the source of the Wandle and how and why it has moved through time.

David, the Project Officer, is looking for volunteers for a variety of roles. If you are interested in the project, we will be able to find a role for you so please get in touch.

Activities could include the below:

  1. Desk-based archiving & researching: We need volunteers to help us research, archive and record a variety of materials from the local archive centres and libraries in Sutton and Croydon, including old photographs, maps, paintings and newspaper articles.
  1. Outdoor research: Walking the local landscape gathering photographic evidence of where the Wandle once flowed, collecting soil and rock samples for some simple chemical analysis.
  1. Interviewing: We want to capture stories from local residents about their personal experience with the Wandle.

If you are interested in helping with this project, please get in touch and we can find a role that suits you. Send you details to David Gill at david.gill@wandletrust.org or via mobile at: 07468 529 312.

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Wandle cleanup: December 2016: Wandsworth

The one with the birthday pike!

 December’s cleanup was special for a number of reasons….

  1. It was the last Living Wandle Landscape Partnership cleanup. Thanks to this large HLF project, we have run 20 cleanups and made a real difference to the River Wandle, engaging new people and raising awareness about the issues of fly tipping and other sources of urban pollution.
  2. It was Theo Pike’s birthday! We were very happy to share this cleanup with Theo on his birthday. As Chairman of the Wandle Trust since 2008, Theo was one of our original volunteers, who started our tradition of Wandle cleanups and has guided the Trust in its work for the last 15 years.
  3. It’s Christmas! Well, nearly. And so as usual, I suggested Christmas attire.

For this Christmas/birthday cleanup we were at Trewint Street in Earlsfield. Joined by 30 volunteers on a sunny Sunday morning, I gave the Health & Safety Briefing and we got started.

Thanks to some keen eyed local volunteers, we knew there was a motorbike on the bank upstream, and so a team headed straight there to retrieve the bike and start the rubbish pile. We also had a head start as Guy had arrived early and started litter picking!

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As the waders cleared the area below Trewint Street Bridge, the rubbish pile grew and grew. There were a couple of mattresses…

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Some weights – we have always said cleanups are an outdoor gym!

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While the waders waded, the rest of the team worked to clear a large pile of rubbish left on the path. Perhaps my favourite find of the day from this was a small cocktail bar on wheels – Christmas drink anyone?

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As the waders worked, we all noticed a rather bad smell coming from the river. But luckily our waders found two air fresheners, so I just put those out to cleanse the air.

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What’s great about the Christmas cleanup is that it is the perfect chance to sort my Christmas shopping out. I found this lovely soggy handbag and flowers for my mum.

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Another find of the day was a Boris bike. The bike had seen better days but we call TFL up and reported it to them anyway.

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Just before lunch we found a small collection of Chinese coins. After much googling, we worked out that we had £1 in Chinese money – a Christmas miracle!

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At lunch we celebrated Theo’s birthday with this amazing Pike cake made by Sally.

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We also had Christmas treats from other volunteers including this snowman cake from Ann. During lunch we were joined by Giselle who is working on an MSc project all about rewildling. If you could spare a couple of minutes to complete her online survey, that would be great. 

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After lunch, we got back in the river, but we had been so quick in the morning, most of the rubbish was cleared all the way down to Ravensbury Terrace. By half past two, the river was spotless (well, as spotless as the Wandle can be) and so we packed up and headed home a bit early.

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So what did we find? 1 motorbike, 1 cocktail bar, 1 kid’s bicycle, 1 Boris bike, 1 bedside lamp, 1 set of body building weights, 1 licence plates, 1 handbag for my mum, 1 electric scooter, 1 walking stick, £1 in Chinese money, 2 window frames,  2 air fresheners, 3 mattresses, 3 cushions, 3 bouquets of flowers, 3 garden chairs and bags and bags of other rubbish from the river and footpath.

Huge thanks to the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership for funding this final event as part of the River Guardians projects, everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Rosie for supervising the Event Tent, Wally and Helen for helping supervise the cleanup, Ann and Sally for baking, and the Waste Team at Wandsworth Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Adam, Andy, Ann, Bob, Charles, Dave , David, Derek, Ed, Gearoid, Guy, Helen, Jamie, Jason, Jeremy, Jim, John, Judy, Kai, Mike, Nick, Penny, Per, Phil, Rose, Sally, Theo, Tom H, Tom K, Victor, Wally and Will.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup?  Well, I learned all about Chinese currency!

David Gill on the Radio!

Last night, David Gill (our Education Officer) and Jez Mallinson (our Education Volunteer) were talking all about the Wandle and our work on Croydon Radio.

The interview covered all sorts from our education work, Project Kingfisher, to our new project – Discovering the Source of the Wandle. It even included a wooly mammoth and a kingfisher.

Missed it? Never fear, you can listen to the whole session below.

Welcome to Alice and Verity!

We are pleased to welcome Alice Dawes and Verity Thomson to our educational programme Project Kingfisher. Alice and Verity will be working as freelance teachers supporting David Gill, the Education Officer, delivering various aspects of the project to schools throughout the Wandle catchment.

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David, Verity and Alice take a break from an educational workshop
(and even saw a kingfisher on the Wandle!)

During the last academic year, David delivered presentations to 23 schools across the Boroughs of Croydon, Merton, Sutton and Wandsworth. This year, with Alice and Verity in support, we hope to work with many more schools. Alice is very excited about her new role. She writes:

‘It’s vital to get children learning outdoors and engaging with their local area. The River Wandle creates a vast range of different teaching and learning opportunities’.

Alice and Verity will provide whole school assemblies and class presentations to children of all ages and abilities. They will use puppets, an interpretation board and build a mock river to provide a platform where the students can fully engage with their understanding of the river and its wildlife and how people have used it in the past to the present day. The presentations conclude with the children and young people understanding that we all have a role in looking after our local river.

Project Kingfisher also offers the opportunities for schools to look after creatures from the river – we bring the Wandle into the classroom. They can look after plants (grown in a tyre pond), freshwater shrimps, tadpoles or sticklebacks (in fish tanks).

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Male stickleback

The children will use the creatures to understand much more about living and non-living things, habitats, life cycles, food chains and food webs and adaptations – and all linked to the requirements of the National Curriculum (that the teachers like!)

Verity writes:

‘I first heard about Project Kingfisher from my daughter who had some ‘strange creatures in the classroom’. There’s only so much you can wheedle out of a five-year-old, but I found out much more when I joined the children and walked down to Butter Hill to release the freshwater shrimps back in to the River Wandle’.

Verity goes on:

‘The whole project was such a wonderful experience for the kids, and they really enjoyed the release event on the river. Each child took a turn to fish a shrimp out of the bucket with their net and set it free into the Wandle’.

What better way can you get the message across that their local river must be valued? It tells the children that the river is the home to so many creatures and we need to help look after it now and in the future.

Alice adds:

‘We will be taking the classroom to the Wandle too – we want to engage children in a whole range of different activities and learning opportunities and let them see the river for themselves.’

We play lots of river-related games – one called Crocodile River (!), another called Duck Pond – all designed to be fun but have some important learning outcomes associated with them. The children will make decisions, learn to work as a team, follow written instructions and can create a map of their surroundings. Find out more about Window on the Wandle here.

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Children constructing an animal home next to the ‘river’

David sees Alice and Verity bringing much more to Project Kingfisher. He writes:

‘Up until this time the Project has been all about my teaching and learning ideas. I am really looking forward to seeing what Alice and Verity bring to the party. They are both experienced teachers so I am confident they will only enhance and build upon what we have done so far. These are very exciting times!’

Verity sums up her new role: ‘We want to get more schools out of the classroom and down to the river, where they might just spot a kingfisher or a brown trout as we ourselves did last week…’

Now that’s the WOW factor we need! Why? Because it stays with you for life…

Wandle cleanup: November 2016: Merton

The one with the long, long walk

Ravensbury Park is a lovely green space on the River Wandle, but hard work for a cleanup site!  With limited vehicle access, we have to wheel barrow the rubbish all the way through the park to the road which, at the farthest point, is half a mile each way! Nevertheless, we were determined to tackle the park, and so we did.

On a sunny November morning, 48 volunteers gathered in Ravensbury Park for our latest Wandle cleanup, and at 11am we held the two minute silence to mark Remembrance Sunday.

Before we got started, we asked everyone to vote for our Aviva Community Project, to fund cleanups in 2017. Our Wandle cleanups are incredibly popular, and now we need extra support to keep up with the demand! If we are successful with this fund, we will be able to buy much needed equipment, including chest waders, gloves and wheelbarrows, as well as recruit and train volunteer Event Supervisors to help organise and run the events in 2017. You can still vote and help secure us funding for 2017 – just click the link below – and vote before November 18th.

Aviva: https://www.avivacommunityfund.co.uk/voting/project/view/16-2471

With plenty of volunteers from Friends of Ravensbury Park, Richmond International University and our usual keen supporters, we divided into 4 groups: wading, bank support, litter picking and tree maintenance (led by the Friends of the park).

Our waders headed into the park and starting hunting down rubbish. Surprisingly there wasn’t much in the main channel. Could this be evidence that we are making progress at this site?

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As the waders got closer to the bridge at the far end of the park, we quickly found a concentrated amount of rubbish, including a trolley!

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At lunchtime we were lucky enough to have the students from the Richmond International University bake for us – cupcakes and cookies, as well as a tray bake from Ann. Spoiled for choice! What amused us all were the unique cake boxes the students used, in the absence of Tupperware…

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With the main channel completed, we headed to the far end of the park to tackle the back channel after lunch. This hadn’t been tackled for a while, and though it was easy wading, there were a lot of overgrown trees in the way, and blockages in the channel itself.

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Progress was slow as the waders worked their way through the undergrowth, filling trugs and sending them up to our bank team who embarked on the voyage back the rubbish pile, a mere half a mile away.

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We even found a rescue boat, but it wasn’t large enough to help the volunteers.

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By 3 o’clock, we hadn’t quite completed the back channel, but we had made good progress and so we started to pack up the van.

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So what did we find? ½ a garden pond, 1 bicycle wheel, 1 bicycle, 1 child scooter, 1 ironing board, 1 road sign, 1 push chair, 1 toy electric boat, 1 puppy teddy, 1 PC keyboard, 1 wicker baskets, 2 mobile phones, 2 shopping trolleys, 2 tyres, 2 licence plates, 3 coconuts, 6 metal poles, lots of wood and bags and bags of other junk.

Huge thanks to the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership for funding the event as part of the River Guardians projects, everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Rosie for supervising the Event Tent, Wally & Helen for helping supervise the cleanup, Ann and the students for baking, and the Waste Team at Merton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming:  Alex, Andy B, Andy T, Ann, Bethel, Charles, Charlotte, Chris, Dave, Derek, Dyu-Sayaor, Ed, Gemma, Guy, Hailey, Hamai, Hannah, Ian, Isabella, James, Jamie, Jane Plant, Jane Porter, Joanne, Joe, Kayla, Kirk, Leah, Lesley, Lillian, Luisa, Lyn, Michael A, Michael S, Nick, Paniz, Per, Phil, Rose, Sara, Steve B, Steve M, Stewart, Theo, Tom, Wally and Wayne.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup?  That our cleanup efforts are making a difference!

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New Project: Discovering the Source of the Wandle

The Wandle Trust is embarking on an exciting new project to research and understand the source of the river and how it has moved over time.

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The River Wandle, Beddington Park in early spring

What is the source of the Wandle?

The source of the River Wandle is found where two rocks – chalk and clay – meet. This occurs in our local area along an east to west to line starting in Croydon, going through Wallington and Carshalton to Esher.

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A simplified geological map of North East Surrey

Chalk makes up the North Downs, shown in light blue on our simplified map. Chalk has the capacity to allow water to flow through it so when rain falls it soaks into the rock as if it’s a sponge. As a result the water builds up within the chalk to create huge underground reservoirs called aquifers.

Overlaying the chalk is clay – shown in dark blue on our simplified map. Unlike chalk, clay does not allow water to flow through it. As a result rainfall flows across the surface of the clay rather than flowing down in to it.

Our east-west line marks where the chalk and the clay meet. Along this line any water held in the chalk aquifer is forced to come to the surface, creating the spring sources we know and love on the Wandle.

Waddon Mills

How does the source of a river move?

The sources of the River Wandle has changed its position over time.

One theory suggests that the River Wandle once started near the village of Merstham in Surrey (south of the M25!) but was ‘captured’ by the River Mole. This is going back to the time when the climate was a lot colder than it is today – back in the Ice Age when mammoths were strolling around your back garden.

We do know from the shape of the North Downs – (the hills that now separate Merstham from Carshalton and Croydon) – that they have been shaped by water action. Look at the ‘dry valleys’ around Woodmansterne, Coulsdon and Caterham.

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Happy Valley near Farthing Downs, Coulsdon showing a typical ‘dry valley’ on the North Downs

Back in the Ice Age the climate was very different to what we have today…

Imagine where we live today looking more like the Alaskan tundra – sub-zero temperatures, freezing cold arctic winds and most importantly frozen ground. The chalk, which today allows water to flow through it, was then permanently frozen (called permafrost). When snow and ice melted in the summer, the rocks and soil could not allow the water to flow down through them. The water flowed across the land surface instead, and eroded the ‘dry valleys’ we can still see today.

But the story doesn’t end there – because we’re all still having an effect on the position of the Wandle’s spring line.

People use water. Where does our water come from? From those underground aquifers of water caught inside the chalk.

As there are now more and more people using more and more water, it is being taken out of those underground reserves. What happens next? Instead of water bubbling out all along our west-east line in many places the springs have simply dried up as water is ‘over abstracted’ from the underground aquifer.

People have also built houses, roads and factories. As a result our east-west line has disappeared under concrete – the river is now flowing underground under all this stuff.

Go to Wandle Park in Croydon and you can see efforts to bring the River Wandle back to the surface where it was previously culverted under the park.

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An Autumn Scene – The River Wandle in Wandle Park, Croydon

So we know that the source of the River Wandle has changed over time, and is still continuing to change – some of these changes are natural (ice age, permafrost, mammoths) whilst others are not (abstraction and concrete).

Will it change in the future? Who knows? Very likely, some would say – our population of people is likely to increase, so we’re going to need more houses and roads and need more water. We think too that the climate is changing – what impact will this bring to the source of our local river?

Who remembers the floods in Purley back in 2014? Is this a sign of the future?

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Discovering the Source of the Wandle – The Project

The Wandle Trust will work with local volunteers to research the source of the River Wandle and how it has changed over time – this will include using archived material, geological maps, photographic evidence and oral histories. The project will use resources in libraries and other local sources.

How can you help?

Contact Project Officer David Gill to show your interest. Let him know your particular areas of interest and any areas of relevant skills and knowledge you might possess.

David can be contacted at david.gill@wandletrust.org or you can call his mobile on 07468 529 312.

Do keep looking for updates on our Wandle website (www.wandletrust.org) and Twitter: #DiscovertheSource

The project is funded through the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership, a Heritage Lottery Funded scheme aims to bring people closer to their local river.

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Wandle cleanup: October 2016: Merton

The one where the rubbish didn’t stop coming

For our October cleanup we ventured to a new site for myself, but one that had been done in the past when Erica ran the cleanups – Waterside Way.

Waterside Way is the half way point between Plough Lane and Merton High Street, meaning we could clean further down the Plough Lane stretch than we had reached before. The fact that we hadn’t been there for a number of years was very obvious once we got started…

The wading team walked 100 m downstream and got into the river. Instantly, large items were found and piled up on the side – the bank support team didn’t stand a chance!

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Shopping baskets, bed springs, carpets, car seats, car bumpers – all within a stretch less than 10 m long.

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The rubbish came out so fast that we ended up asking some waders to hope out and help shift the rubbish from the bank to the rubbish pile back on Waterside Way.

Perhaps the “Find of the Day” was our creepy baby manikin – just in time for Halloween…

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By lunchtime, everyone was exhausted and so we headed back to base for some tea and carrot cake (kindly baked for us by Ann). Even creepy baby joined us for some tea.

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After lunch, we got back to it. With so much rubbish coming out, we were glad for the extra help from students from Richmond International University University – helping us ferry the rubbish back to base.

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Throughout the cleanup, carpets were the most prominent find with over 20 found in our short 50 m stretch. These took a lot of man power to get out as they had become part of the river bed, trapping silt and allsorts.

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At the end of the day, everyone got out on the banks and helped to carry the surplus of rubbish back to the pile. And what a pile it was!

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So what did we find? 1 flymo, 1 bed spring, 1 hanging basket, 1 creepy baby manikin, 1 shoe, 1 clothes horse, 1 lino sample book, 1 car bumper, 1 keyboard, 1 mop, 1 dustbin, 1 cooker hob, 1 TV, 1 tyre, 1 bicycle frame and tyre, 1 giant pipe, 2 hose pipes, 2 car seats, 2 shopping baskets, 2 microwaves, 2 toasters, 4 stereos, 3 traffic cones, 3 umbrellas, 15 spray glue cans, 20+ carpets and piles and piles of wood planks and other rubbish.

We also saw an eel and a frog!

Huge thanks to the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership for funding the event as part of the River Guardians projects, everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Dave and Louise for supervising the Event Tent, Wally for helping supervise the cleanup, and the Waste Team at Merton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Alex, Alison, Amelia, Andy, Ann, Charles, Cheyenne, Chris, Claire, Danny, Dave, David, Davis, Ed, Gary, Guy, Jane, Jason, Julia, Kaitlynn, Kamillah, Keith, Kristina, Louise, Marley, Nick, Niyin, Phil, Richard, Rob, Shivani, Steve, Stewart, Sue, Thima, Wally, Wayne, Will and William.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup?  That our cleanup effort was just the start, we will need to come back to Waterside Way!

Freelance Teachers Wanted

Project KingfisherAs part of our new education programme, Project Kingfisher, we are looking to recruit two freelance teachers on the River Wandle.

Project Kingfisher is designed to raise awareness about the River Wandle by engaging children and young people with the river and incorporating it into their lessons. It has been funded through the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership.

Last year Project Kingfisher engaged nearly 4000 students, visiting 23 schools in the Wandle catchment. We hope to exceed this in the next academic year and the freelance teachers will play a large role in this, enabling delivery of the project to more schools. More information on Project Kingfisher can be found on our website: www.wandletrust.org/education

To find out more about the available positions, download our Role Description below.

Freelance Teacher Role Description

Details on how to apply can be found on the role description. The application deadline is Monday 24th October at noon, with interviews likely to take place the week commencing 31st October.

If you have any questions about the role or application process, please call our Education Officer on 07468 529 312 or email david.gill@wandletrust.org

Shrimp Release