The BIG one
The organisation of our April cleanup was big as we had grand ambitions. We aimed to clean the river from Grove Park, all the way to the top of Culvers Island, covering over 2000 m of the Wandle.
To achieve this we needed a large number of volunteers. Luckily, we were gifted with sunny weather, and with a local 50th birthday joining us, we were not disappointed as 50 people met us at Hackbridge Road Bridge.
To tackle the 2000 m we divided into two teams, one led by Andy, and the other by Theo. After the Health & Safety briefing, and division of equipment, the two teams set off.
Andy’s team headed down the Wandle to the northern end of Culvers Island and started working up the right hand branch of the river. To start with, rubbish was slow to find and our people wading made quick progress. The token coconut was retrieved from the river, along with 3 bike frames with the wheels missing.
In no time, the team were at the halfway point at Culvers Avenue. Here, a large pile of fly tipped rubbish was spotted on the other side of the river. Given we had the luxury of numbers, and we didn’t want the rubbish to end up in the Wandle, we got started moving the pile to our agreed collection site.
Local neighbours were so happy to see the fly tipped rubbish removed, they came out and gave us ice cold drinks and bottles of water as a thank you – given the heat of the day this was much appreciated!
With the tip removed, we got back in the river and headed towards the lunch site at Hackbridge Bridge.
Meanwhile, Theo’s team had been working hard on the Carshalton arm of the river. Helped by Derek and other volunteers from London Wildlife Trust’s Wilderness Island nature reserve, we worked steadily upstream, clearing litter from the dragons’ teeth and other habitat features which we’d previously installed in this stretch.
By lunch time we were all gasping for a drink so we reunited at the event tent where Rosie had water, squash and cake ready for us. As it was Clare’s 50th, we were also treated to extra food including strawberries, grapes and Easter cakes baked by the students from Richmond University.
After re-fuelling, the teams headed out again to finish what they had started.
Andy’s team headed back to the north of Culvers Island to tackle the left hand side of the river while Theo’s team got back in at Butter Hill to continue up to Grove Park.
It was a huge effort from all and we hope we left the Wandle in Sutton a little clearer and rubbish free.
The next Wandle Cleanup will be on Sunday 14th May in Beddington Park where we will also be tackling Himayalan balsam!
So what did we find? 1 golf ball, 1 bike wheel, 1 sun hat, 1 flat pack wardrobe, 1 flat pack chest of drawers, 1 large section of roofing felt, 1 window, 1 hoover, 1 scooter, 1 traffic cone, 1 mobile phone, 1 bouncing ball, 1 concrete bathroom wall (we think), 1 umbrella, 3 bikes with wheels intact, 2.5 coconuts, 3 bike frames without wheels, 4 guttering pieces, half of a plastic Christmas tree, bags and bags of rubble from the fly tip and bags and bags of cans, bottles and other rubbish.
Huge thanks to everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Rosie for supervising the Event Tent and helping me back at the garage, the students from Richmond University for baking some treats, Big Yellow Wandsworth for providing free storage space for our equipment 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, Charles, Chris, Claire, Dave, David, Derek C, Derek P, Doris, Ed, Guy, Jackie, John N, John S, Mike, Phil, Sally, Steve, Stewart, Theo, Trevor, Victor and Wally. The sign in sheet from this event has gone missing in the garage so if you joined us and don’t see your name above, please let us know so we can add you! You can comment here or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup? That people really do appreciate what we do – and thank us with ice cold drinks!