Tag Archives: Wandle

Wandle cleanup: February 2017: Sutton

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!

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Eventually we started to find rubbish: tyres (not 200 thankfully), a steering wheel and a BBQ.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Our waders continued through the park finding 3 coconuts – classic!

A nice cup of concrete to warm me up..

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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….

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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!

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.

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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: January 2017: Wandsworth

The one with Rudolph’s leftover carrots   

And so another year of Wandle cleanups begins. But before we move on to 2017 and all the cleanup fun it has in store, we really should take a moment to reflect on what we achieved in 2016. Thanks to everyone involved, we achieved a lot!

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This is the tip of the rubbish iceberg really, as so much of what we pull out isn’t counted such as bottles, cans, plastic bags, old bits of metal and all the other junk that has been in the river so long we can no longer identify it.

We couldn’t have done this without the support of our funders, the support of the local councils who come and remove the rubbish free of charge, and most importantly, you and all our other volunteers who came along each month, put on waders and got stuck in. (Not literally, of course).

With 2016 behind us, now we look to 2017

For our first cleanup of 2017 we headed to King George’s Park in Wandsworth to tackle a short stretch of the river we hadn’t visited for a few years. The banks were steep, there were a lot of brambles, but with the energy of the New Year spurring us on, we felt ready for the challenge.

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Kitted out with waders, gloves, litter pickers and bin bags, we all got to work and it wasn’t long until trugs of rubbish were being hauled out and emptied into wheelbarrows.

We found a paddling pool, but as the weather wasn’t on our side, we decided not to set it up for the tea break.

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A bicycle was pulled out of the Wandle’s depths…

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… as well as some more unusual finds, including a bag of carrots? We can only assume Rudolph and the other reindeer were clearing out their cupboards after a carrot-heavy Christmas.

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Just before lunch, the wading team found a huge lorry tyre which provide difficult to remove from the mud, but also to heave up the bank!

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By lunchtime we were all very hungry and ready for a cup of tea. Ann had baked us a lovely tray bake which disappeared quickly while we all warmed up and caught up on our Christmas adventures. Giselle, an MSc student, arrived at lunch to interview us for her dissertation on rewilding and voluteering. If you can spare a few minutes, please so complete her survey online!

But no rest for the wicked, and after lunch we were back in the Wandle wading away. A carpet was pulled from the silty bed and heaved up the bank to drain.

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A second lorry tyre was found – we were just waiting to find the cab next!

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As it came to finishing time, Derek and his super senses had found something lurking under the water. It was well and truly stuck in the mud, and with some leverage from a crow bar and a lot of heaving from 5 people on the banks, we managed to pull it free.

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A trolley and pram frame all in one! The Wandle always delivers..

With that, we packed up just before the rain started and headed home.

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So what did we find? 1 electric blanket, 1 duvet, 1 pillow, 1 bag of carrots, 1 pair of headphones, 1 mobile phone, 1 bicycle, 1 tape cassette, 1 shovel, 1 radio, 1 trolley, 1 paddling pool, 1 pram frame, 1 money safe, 1 carpet, 2 lorry tyres, 2 traffic cones, 4 coconuts and 5 car tyres, with 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, Rose for supervising the Event Tent, Ann 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: Aaron, Andrew, Andy, Ann, Claire, Dalziel, Dave J, Dave W, David, Derek, Ed, Guy, Jane, John, Ken, Louise, Marcus, Nick, Penny, Phil, Rose, Sally, Steve, Theo, Tom, Tristan, Victor, Will and Younan.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup?   Derek has a sixth sense when it comes to finding large items lurking in the Wandle!

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Local Art Work on the Wandle

Senhor Claudio Funari is a well-known local figure in Carshalton, south London. He builds riverside sculptures using scrap metal he has pulled from the River Wandle. He also creates bankside flowerbeds and small gardens using natural materials such as branches.

Originally from São Paulo, Brasil, Funari (that’s what he likes to be called) started chatting with South East Rivers Trust (SERT) team members and visiting researcher Samantha Jane Hughes as they were watching trout breeding in this restored urban chalk river on their lunch break.

Funari talked about his art work along the Wandle and also knew where fish tended to shoal in different reaches of the river. He pulled an old photo album out of his shopping trolley. The photos showed his work as an artist in Brazil in the 1970’s and 1980’s when he was commissioned for sculpture, paintings and restoration work for private clients but also for churches and cathedrals across the state of São Paulo. Another life in another much warmer continent a long long time ago. He wasn’t sad though. He now knows and loves the River Wandle after following family to the UK. Claudio Funari personifies the phrase “life is a journey”. An amazing, and warm hearted man who shares the art and gardens he creates along the Wandle

Here at the Wandle Trust, we strongly support everyone who wants to take care of their local stretch of river. However, it’s important to make sure that your efforts help the river instead of harming it.

For instance, it’s great to pull out rubbish, but we ask you to please leave all plants, tree branches and other natural features in place. 

The Wandle has been very highly modified for flood defence and other purposes in the past, and it now needs as many natural features as possible to act as habitat for insects, birds and fish.

Please don’t bring new plants to the river from your garden or other rivers, as this could introduce damaging new invasive species to the river.

If you’d any more information, or you want to talk to us about adopting your own stretch of the river, please get in touch with us.

Many thanks to all our supporters, and everyone who wants to help us look after the Wandle!

Author: Samantha Jane Hughes

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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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