Author Archives: Gideon


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July’s picnic was our chance to say thank you and farewell (in due course) to Erica who has organised and run the monthly cleanups since November 2008. She has only missed one – a friend of hers was celebrating a 50th birthday with an elegant lunch at a hotel in Sussex – an invitation she couldn’t refuse – but Erica still came and loaded up the van on that morning, leaving Andy and me to drive to the location and supervise the volunteers!


Erica has decided to join her family in East Anglia and even we have to agree that this location is a little too far to just ‘pop down’ to the Wandle and see which bits need cleaning up. So, whilst we were all relaxing on the grass with our delicious picnic, we made a few speeches, presented her with a card signed by everyone, containing something for her to spend in John Lewis, as well as giving her a Jane Porter original ‘Wandle’ picture (note the eels in the car tyre!)


and, of course, a coconut! Our regular volunteers know that when we decided to keep a record of the amount and type of rubbish removed from the Wandle, there would inevitably be a coconut. Curious as to why this was, Erica researched the reasons and wrote a piece for our newsletter (it’s to do with the Hindu festival of Ganesh). Since then, it’s been an ongoing symbol of our efforts to protect the river.

She wanted me to let you know that she was absolutely thrilled with her presents and sends a huge thank you to everyone. She was so touched by all your good wishes and hopes to catch up with you all as she’ll continue to organise the cleanups until a successor has been appointed, and will help handover to the new person too.


Erica says she will definitely be back to pick up a litter picker and bin bag and be part of the happy band of volunteers that make Wandle cleanups the success they are.

I’m sure those of you who know her would like thank her for her commitment and for the hard work she has put in since she became involved with the trust around 15 years ago, and wish her all the very best for the future.


In Memoriam: Robin Reeves

Pictured here on the left.

Pictured here on the left.

May 1952 to 27th January 2014.

It was with great shock and sadness that we learned of the death of Robin Reeves, one of the Wandle Trust’s core volunteers.

Robin lived all of his life in the same house in Southfields. He attended the local Elliot School and ended up teaching there during his 35 year career. He also taught at Malory in Lewisham and Southfields Community College where he was Head of House, Head of Year, Fixed Head of Year 7, French teacher, Head of Year 9 Inclusion Group and Head of Inclusion. Robin spoke 4 languages.

Robin felt particularly rewarded by supporting pupils who were in danger of dropping out of mainstream education. Many former pupils have acknowledged his positive guidance and influence.

Southfields College backs onto King George’s Park, which is adjacent to the Wandle, and Robin came to the river with GCSE groups doing their river study for Geography.

Robin had many interests. He was active in the development of AFC Wimbledon Don’s Trust, he was a member of Southfields Tennis Club and played for a table tennis team at St Paul’s Church. His other sporting interests were walking, cycling, running, badminton, golf, karate and yoga. Robin could do a freestanding handstand and recently he had been attempting to perfect walking on his hands.

Since retiring in July 2011, Robin had become increasingly involved with the Wandle Trust.

Robin came to the December community river cleanup at Garfield Road in Merton. He had an allotment next to the river here, and from his plot, which was opposite the viewing platform where the river Graveney joins the Wandle, he was able to indulge in another of his loves, watching birds, as well as growing vegetables.

During the cleanup there was lots of good humoured banter about AFC Wimbledon as he was able to lighten up any situation with his gentle, friendly humour. Everyone seemed to like him. Someone suggested that there were no Wimbledon football fans left now as they had all switched to following Chelsea FC. A twinkle appeared in Robin’s eye, an expression for which he was so well known, and he responded with “Wimbledon AFC has lots of fans, but yes there are a lot of glory seekers around too!” Once after getting filthy and wet in the water and pulling all sorts of detritus out of the river, including a fridge and half a shop mannequin, he said with a grin, “that’s the most fun I’ve had in ages!”

Robin 2 

Recently, Robin had also been extensively involved with helping to develop the Trust’s educational strategy, and was supporting Trout in the Classroom. This year he was working with Francis Barber and Thomas’s schools.

Our thoughts and condolences are with his wife Sue, daughter Anna, and son Tom. In addition, Robin was a doting and active grandfather to 4 year old Luke.

Robin’s funeral will take place at Putney Vale Cemetery at 2.40pm on Tuesday 11th February 2014.

He will be much missed.

Celebrating 11 years of Trout in the Classroom success on the Wandle!

Saturday 27 October saw a large gathering of  people at Strawberry Lodge in Carshalton on the banks of the Wandle. The event was a chance for us at the Trust to thank all our loyal volunteers for their support and commitment since the beginning of our Trout in the Classroom project back in 2001.

Also present were many interested new recruits keen and eager to find out what this inspiring educational project is all about.  It was particularly heartening that environmental students from Kings College London and recent graduates from Sparsholt fisheries management degree courses came to sign up as volunteers for this year’s project: a new generation keen to see the continuing regeneration of the River Wandle!

The event kicked off with a presentation which looked back at the evolution of the trout project, followed by a question and answer session.

After this our talented new Project Coordinator AJ McConville was introduced to the audience. As befits the newest recruit to the Wandle Trust team, AJ advises government on environmental policy but is also very hands-on and practical – as evidenced by a hatchery he had assembled for the occasion!

At 12.30pm we broke for a buffet lunch which was welcomed by all.

After lunch those that were able to stay braved the squally weather for a guided walk upstream along the Butter Hill stretch of the river, where we talked about the work we’ve been doing to improve the natural habitat. In fact many of our trout project volunteers have also been involved with this regeneration work and so they were able to impart their considerable knowledge too.

Finally, we rounded off the event with a well earned drink at the Greyhound pub beside Carshalton Ponds at the headwaters of the Wandle.

Thanks and congratulations to anyone who’s ever been involved in helping us deliver our educational projects!

What an extraordinary turnout to see the trout!

For the 11th year in a row the great and the good of the Wandle Valley and beyond came to support our schools’ trout release on the river.  How lucky we were to have a lovely sunny day for the event; and thanks to the hospitality of the National Trust, beautiful surroundings too!

Please click on this link to see a magnificent video of the day made by our volunteer Philip Williams.

(Photo: John O’Brien)

Our guest of honour, the Mayor of Wandsworth Councillor Jane Cooper, was a terrific sport, wading into the river still wearing her mayoral chains to assist the school children as they released their fry:

(Photo: Roger Stevens)

Her chauffeur Barry was slightly concerned for the mayor’s safety – as well as the honorary bling – but it all turned out well in the end!

(Photo: John O’Brien)

Meanwhile Furzedown Primary School and their teacher were being shadowed by a CBBC film crew and Newsround presenter Joe Tidy.  The crew followed the kids as they carefully carried their buckets of little fish on the journey all the way from the school, via the London Underground and Tooting Broadway, to Morden Hall Park.

(Photo: John O’Brien)

We wonder if this experience will help these trout to become urban-adapted survivors? 

The footage was broadcast nationwide on Easter Monday, sending out an important message across the UK. Click here to watch the programme, and here to see the report in the Wandsworth Guardian.

(Photo: John O’Brien)

The trout teams were fantastically decked out in trout hats and carried banners, and were rewarded for their efforts with chocolaty treats.  

(Photo: Philip Williams)

Our Trout in the Classroom Project Director had once again gone way overboard and fashioned a complete trout head mask.  Known to the children as Trout Man, maybe he had taken this moniker way too literally?

(Photo: John O’Brien)

Once again we must thank our supporters, donators, volunteers and teachers for their valuable contribution…

(Photo: John O’Brien)

… and of course the school pupils, because without all of them this endeavour wouldn’t be possible!

(Photo: John O’Brien)

For a full list of this year’s schools and their supporters, please click here.

Stripped, dispatched, hatched: Trout in the Classroom 2011 – 12

On Thursday 15 December last year, a car load of likely lads from the Wandle Trust descended on Sparsholt College in Hampshire for a fisheries masterclass: stripping eggs from 5 female trout and milt from 3 male trout, and then mixing the eggs and milt in a big bowl to fertilise the eggs.

They were ably tutored by Alan Black, the man in charge at the hatchery: 

By Thursday 12 January, the eggs were ‘eyed’ and ready to be collected from Sparsholt:

With help from 2 more Wandle Trust volunteers, 200 of the same eggs were delivered to each of the 7 schools taking part in Trout in the Classroom this year.

The children were amazed at how the eggs looked: these Year 5 girls from Furzedown excitedly wondered what was going to happen next…

Within a week to 10 days the alevin (the first stage of a young trout after it has hatched) usually begin to emerge from the eggs.  From then on,  it’s up to the kids to keep the little fry healthy until they release them into the Wandle at the end of March!

Many thanks to our volunteers: Dave, Henry, Jez, John O, John P, and Richard

Trout in the Classroom: Ten years old and still going strong!

At 10.30am on Wednesday 30 March, pupils from six of our participating Trout in the Classroom schools gathered at Hackbridge to release their carefully and diligently nurtured trout fry into the River Wandle. 

All those present were also there to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the inception of this project in 2001 – a decade of learning about the importance of a healthy river and the life-cycle of the wild brown trout:

At the beginning of the morning the children gathered on the green and peered into each others’ buckets to compare their baby trout and swap fish rearing tips:

In fact this has turned out to be the best year ever for survival rates with all the schools having over fifty fish fry at the release stage and some considerably more!  Notwithstanding the usual challenges of equipment malfunctions and blocked filters.

Many local councillors attended the event and the introductory speech was given by our guest of honour Mr Sean Brennan, the Leader of Sutton Council:

Sutton Council have big plans for the regeneration of the whole of the Hackbridge area as part of the Hackbridge Masterplan, and the Wandle Trust has been working closely with Peter O’Connell and other Council officers to make sure river restoration is also part of this project.

After the speeches it was time for each school to release their trout. The students donned their waders and life jackets and were helped into the water by Wandle Trust volunteers:

The whole crowd counted down and then cheered as the pupils tilted their buckets and the young fish finally swam free:

I was particularly aware of how excitedly the children spoke about how it felt to wade in the water.  For most of them it was the first time they had ever done experienced anything like this. Like my own memories of a school trip to a waterway I’m sure many of them will remember this for a lifetime!

In a rather untimely manner OFSTED chose to visit Benedict School on this very morning which meant the school couldn’t take part in the first release event. Benedict were very happy though to have their own tailor made release, including a nature walk along the Wandle, the following week on Thursday 7 April. 

Articles about our Trout in the Classroom trout releases appeared in several local papers. Please click here to read one of these.

This year the volunteers who helped were: Andrew, Jez, Jim, John, Peter, Sally, Sally-Anne, Susan and Theo. I would also like to extend my thanks to all the volunteers who have supported our schools over the last ten years. Without them this project wouldn’t be possible.

Linden Lodge wins the Wandle Trust’s Carbon Footprint Competition

Deputy Mayor of Wandsworth Councillor Jane Cooper presents Linden Lodge School with first prize!

Our flagship ecological education project, Trout in the Classroom, has many environmental benefits but we are always looking for new ways of reducing its carbon footprint. Last year we ran a carbon balancing competition for the schools taking part.

Karen Gardiner, from the winning school Linden Lodge reports:

“The brown trout eggs arrived in January and were looked after, as they developed into swim-up fry, for two half terms by Key Stage 3 students. The pupils mostly enjoyed this but their least favourite job was removing the trout faeces or poo as they called it.

The project group estimated that they must have used 81 litres of water during the project. They decided they wanted to get some of this back – and held a special water saving week to try to achieve this. Some of the ideas the pupils came up with for saving water were: 

Don’t sing in the shower! You take longer. But a shower is much better than having a bath for saving water. Our slogan was ‘Sing in the rain – not the shower!’

Use the left over drinking water to water the garden and indoor plants. 

Recycle the old fish water – also very good for plants.

All our water saving endeavours won us the Wandle Trust Carbon Footprint Prize. We decided to put the money towards a specially commissioned tactile wall display of the life cycle of the brown trout to help our visually impaired students understand the process”.

Trout in the Classroom project teacher Launa Randels and a victorious student admire the tactile display.

The display was created by Linda Marshal, an artist who has worked at Linden Lodge for many years supporting young people with a visual impairment. She has used this experience to produce a range of tactile pictures which bring life and meaning to children who have complex needs. Karen continues:

“Linda is really inspirational in the way she gives children tactile awareness and helps them navigate their world. When people visit the school they see children exploring their environment with her tactile references. Much of Linda’s work is unique to Linden Lodge. She uses everyday materials in an imaginative and creative way and her use of colour, shape and texture makes objects come alive which stimulates children to feel, touch and smell.

We really want to thank everyone who took part in our water-saving week and helped us to win the Wandle Trust’s Carbon Footprint Prize!”

About Linden Lodge School
Linden Lodge School provides a high quality educational experience and support for pupils with a visual impairment or multi-disabled visual impairment which affects their access to learning. The school also supports pupils with profound and multiple learning difficulties.  Linden Lodge has been recognised as a specialist regional resource and caters for children aged 3 to 19. The school is situated in Wimbledon.

Trout in the Classroom release days 2010

As in previous years our 2010 schools’ trout release days on the Wandle turned out to be exciting and eventful.  

On Thursday 8 March at 10.30am in the morning we gathered at a new venue for our trout releases – a stretch of the river in front of Sainsbury’s and M&S on Merton High Street. It was great to create such a stir amongst local people going about their usual business.

In the afternoon it was off to the Hackbridge in Sutton, a few hundred yards downstream from where earlier generations of Trout in the Classroom have just begun to breed successfully.

We were lucky to be blessed with lovely early spring weather throughout the day.

The following Thursday 25 March we had a full day on the Wandle at the National Trust’s Morden Hall Park.

In the morning it was predominantly Wandsworth schools releasing their fish, and we were delighted to have the Deputy Mayor of Wandsworth as our guest of honour. Councillor Jane Cooper was a terrific sport – even getting into the river to help whilst still wearing her mayoral chain to pose for photos.

Honeywell School as usual made the most of the opportunity to show real theatricality. 

What must the residents of Morden town have thought as the pupils and teachers paraded from the tube station in their fancy dress, sporting banners and carrying their precious bucket of trout fry?

This year in addition to the usual class work the project included a Carbon Balancing competition. Participants were invited to work out and then instigate ways in which Trout in the Classroom could reduce the amount of carbon fuels it uses. 

Winners of the competition were Linden Lodge from Wimbledon who ran a water saving week which highlighted the importance of saving water at home and at school. The prize of £250 was very generously donated by Wandle Trust supporter Roger Stevens.

The Croydon schools arrived at Morden Hall Park after lunch.  No one was put off by the intermittent rain which fell throughout the day.

Many of our project partners, friends and volunteers attended throughout these two weeks, as well as representatives from our sponsors including Thames Water and Penta Consulting. We extend our thanks to them and all our supporters. 

As we gathered at the end of the day we all agreed that it was great to see our local children and young people making a difference to the environment as part of Trout in the Classroom and the Living Wandle project!

Trout in the snowdrifts!

On Thursday 7 January, with all the Trout in the Classroom aquarium hatcheries set up in our 19 schools, and our pupils expectantly waiting for their trouty charges, we encountered two unexpected problems.

It was egg delivery day – but the eggs, which were beginning to hatch, were snowed in at the Environment Agency’s Sparsholt College in Hampshire. And most of the schools in the Wandle Valley were also closed due to the bad weather.

Thankfully, a thaw enabled Roger and me to dash down the A3 on the following Tuesday.  We still needed the use of a tractor to get across the snowy fields and down to the hatchery as the access road was blocked. 

With the help of our hastily reassembled team of volunteers, gathered for the off at Morden Hall Park, we managed to get around all the schools before dusk. Each school received its quota, even though our volunteers now had to deliver watery bags full of newly emerged alevin instead of eggs.

This year for the first time we formally recruited a team of volunteers through our own website, environmental jobs websites and our four boroughs’ volunteer bureaus.  These 20 dedicated assistants are really enhancing our project this year. They have been sharing their expertise with the thousands of fascinated pupils.

Thanks to all the team: David Alford, John Atkinson, Sue Bailey, Petra Barnby, Kalpna Desai, Chris Dodge, Jane Gardiner, Alasdair Hendry, Andrew Hutchinson, Sara Marshall, John O’Brien, Ben Roth, Marie Sanchez, Roger Stevens, Peter Treagust, Gary Renton, and Carole White.

Thanks also to Richard Mundy and the senior boys at Sutton Grammar, Andrew and Dominic, as well as Alan Black at Sparsholt, and Erica Evans here at the Wandle Trust.

Trout in the Classroom 2008 – 09: another successful year

Well, Trout in the Classroom is over again for another year and an estimated one thousand little trout fry have been released into the river!

We set out on this odyssey in 2002 at Old Palace School in Croydon with the aim of having 20 schools annually at some time in the future.  We reached that target in 2007 – 08, and maintained it again this year with schools in our London Boroughs of Croydon, Merton, Sutton and Wandsworth. That the pupils were able to nurture their fry in their classroom hatcheries for another year, was largely thanks to  the support of the Living Wandle project funded by Thames Water, and the massive amount of time and hard work put in by our dedicated volunteers, who were much more involved with the project than in previous years.

As planned, we held our releases on three dates, at three locations along the Wandle.

On Thursday 26 March we visited Morden Hall Park, with schools from Merton in the morning, and schools from Croydon in the afternoon.  The Mayor of Merton, Councillor Martin Whelton and the deputy Mayor of Croydon, Councillor Susan Winborn, honoured us with their presence:




 On Tuesday 31 March, our Wandsworth schools released their fry at Mapleton Road, with the Mayor of Wandsworth, Councillor John Farebrother, as our very welcome guest:




And on Thursday 2 April, pupils from our Sutton schools brought their little trout to Hackbridge:



All the signs are that our core educational project has been even more successful than last year, and reached more 9,000 local children.  We also believe that our success rate in hatching more eggs and keeping the little alevins alive was boosted by the use of hatching nets for the first time.

In late March I attended a twenty minute multi media event at the Parish Church Junior School in Croydon which emphasised exactly what this project is all about. The Year Four group had devised a show which included contemporary dance, music, a song which they had composed themselves and animated films which they had made. The performance was all about the birth of a baby trout and the importance of saving our environment.  These eight and nine year olds performed with such belief and professionalism that I was truly moved, and I think I am well qualified to judge their quality having been a professional dancer myself.

TiTC school performance

Thank you once again to all the teachers, pupils and volunteers who have put so much into the project this time round, and over the past six years too.

Here’s looking forward to next year already!