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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