Tag Archives: Bags of Help

Wandle cleanup: February 2018: Sutton

The one when it was very, very, very cold

 For February we headed to Poulter Park in Sutton, on a very cold day.

We kicked of the day in the usual style, with a Welcome Talk and Health & Safety briefing. With the cold temperature, everyone was eager to get moving and so the event began!

As the event started, rubbish was slow to find. Our wading team made it quite a distance up the river before having to unload their first trugs – but as soon as they started, it didn’t stop!

Trug after trug full of cans, bottles, plastic bags and more were emptied and taken back to the rubbish pile. It wasn’t long until the classic Wandle coconut was found either!

After a short while, a smaller team of waders broke from the usual group and headed right to the other end of the park at Watermead Lane. They had their sights set on a safe that was rumoured to have been in the Wandle for 10 years or more.

The safe had not previously been tackled, as it was extremely heavy. However, with the extra bodies today, and the need to stay warm with lots of exercise, the challenge was accepted!

Dislodging the safe from the silty bed took some serious crow bar work. Then began the negotiations to get the safe up on to the river bank.

Ropes, crow bars and muscle seemed to be the solution but it still took considerable effort.

Once it was “ashore”, it dawned on everyone that we had only made it halfway, and the real test was getting it to the road so it could be collected.

The safe was eventually placed atop a wheel barrow, and an escort of 8 people carefully pushed it all the way to the end of Watermead Lane for collection.

After all this effort, it was time for cake. We were very happy to see the students at Richmond International University had baked some lovely Valentine’s treats for us again.

After lunch, we finished the remaining 100 m of the Wandle in the park, but with the temperature plummeting and little rubbish to be found, we stopped for the day to go home and defrost.

So what did we find?  1 safe, 1 duvet, 1 freezer, 1 rubber dinghy, 1 bag of apples, 1 coconut, 1 hedge trimmer, 1 motorbike, 1 scooter, 2 footballs, 2 traffic cones, 3 carpets, 8 metal poles and bags and bags of other smaller junk including plastic bottles, food wrappers and plastic bags.

We also saw a Kestrel, a Heron and a Little Egret while working!

Huge thanks everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Rosie for supervising the Event Tent on such a cold day, the students at Richmond International University for baking such lovely treats and the Parks Team at Sutton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day and to our funders, Tesco!

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming:    Andy, Ann, Carl, Charles, Cheick, Chris, Dave, David, Derek, Ellie, Eve, Frank, Gearoid, Gideon, Gustina, Guy, Hannah, Ian, Isabel, James, Joe, John, John, Kayle, Keith, Martin, Max, Michelle, Nikolay, Nikolett, Paul, Rosie, Sam, Sanud, Sheila, Simon, Sofia, Steve, Steve, Stewart, Thea, Theadore, Victoria, Vincent Wally, Wayne, William H and William M.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup? No amount of hot tea can keep you warm!


Wandle cleanup: November 2017: Merton

The one where the police were called on us…

On a cold November morning, I arrived at North Road, Wimbledon to set up for this month’s Wandle cleanup. As I was unloading the van with a couple of helpers, a police car pulled up.

Although we knew we’d done nothing wrong, we were slightly nervous as they approached. It turned out that someone had reported fly-tipping from a Zip Van, and the police had come to check it out, only to find the Wandle Trust setting up our event to tackle fly-tipping.

So that was ironic – but if you’re reading this, and you were the person who made that call – thank you for caring so much about keeping the Wandle Valley clean, and don’t stop making those calls if you see anything suspicious!

With that all sorted, and no one arrested, I gathered our 45 volunteers to take a two minute silence for Remembrance Sunday, and then got our cleanup started.

This is the first event supported by the Tesco Bags of Help Fund which offers community groups and projects across the UK a share of revenue generated from the 5p charge levied on single-use carrier bags.

Our project, Wombles of the Wandle, was successful in receiving £2,000 after coming second in the public vote. The money will be used to run two Wandle cleanups in the Merton area and to replace some equipment such as gloves.  So a big thanks to all who voted for us. We have already put the money to good use…

To get started, we headed down to the footbridge by Garfield Recreation Park and got in to the Wandle to work upstream. The water was much deeper than usual, with poor visibility. This was due to heavy rainfall overnight, and some natural woody material which had fallen in the river, creating some excellent new habitats for fish in what was previously quite a straight, uniform channel.

While we loved the new additions to the channel, it did make our event a bit harder, with logs and bits of tree to navigate over, and deeper water. In fact, in some places it was so deep we had to get out and walk along the bank until the level had dropped.

Despite the additional challenges, rubbish was found. We cleared 15 bags of plastic bottles which had accumulated near one tree trunk..

We found the token Wandle coconuts too, as well as a green pepper, carved pumpkin and apples…

We also found this commemorative mug from Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s wedding.

By lunch time we were freezing and headed back to the tent for tea and cakes, as well as some delicious savoury snacks made for us by the students from the Richmond International University. However, we didn’t stop for long as the weather wasn’t getting any warmer and it was better to be moving than standing still.

After lunch, we headed under the North Road bridge and continued upstream. Again, the water was deep and murky, but we found a few things which made our trip worthwhile, including a sofa…

A Merton Council waste bin…

And a bike.

With 500 m of the Wandle covered in this cleanup, we called it a day and all went home to defrost.

So what did we find?  1 carved pumpkin, 1 green pepper, 1 step ladder, 1 computer chair, 1 Vishnu statue, 1 Prince Charles & Princess Diana mug, 1 piece of guttering, 1 shopping basket, 1 bicycle, 1 tyre, 1 bike wheel, 1 wheelchair, 1 mattress, 1 duvet, 1 Merton Council waste bin, 1 sofa, 2 wooden pallets, 10 coconuts, 15 tennis balls, 15 bags of plastic bottles and bags and bags of other junk.

Huge thanks everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Wally for supervising the Event Tent, the students from Richmond International University for baking such yummy treats and the Waste Team at Merton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day and to our funders, Tesco!

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming:   Aaron, Alec, Andrew, Andy, Beth, Carl, Charles, Chris, Christine, Claire, Dave, David, Derek, Emily , Fahad, George, Guy, Hayley, Ian, James L, James T, Jayne, Joe, John, Kai, Karoline, Korab, Lisa, Michael D, Michael O, Mickeif, Nick, Per, Phil R, Phil S, Rolanas, Sheila, Steve, Stewart, Thea, Thomas, Wally, Wayne and Will.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup? Tick off all the equipment as you pack the van so you don’t have to drive back to site at 5pm and dig through the rubbish pile to find the missing Wandle Trust flag. I looked like a crazy person…