Wandle cleanup: September 2014: Merton

The one with the long, long, long walk

This month’s cleanup saw us at Ravensbury Park in Merton working alongside the Friends of Ravensbury Park, students from the Challenge Network and students from the American International University in London. In total, we had a record 84 volunteers litter picking, wading and wheel-barrowing!

Volunteers in the River

To open our cleanup, Luke (one of our new members of staff) introduced everyone to the planned river restoration work at Ravensbury Park which is part of the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership, funded through the Heritage Lottery Fund. The plans include narrowing the channel from 20 to 10 metres across and returning the river to its natural meander form to enhance / increase habitat and encourage biodiversity. To show our volunteers the “vision”, Luke brought two artistic interpretations of how the park would look following the restoration (pictured below).

Ravensbury Park - The Vision

After the talk, everyone got stuck in and started cleaning the park. We had one team in waders in the river pulling out all sorts – including a World War II tin helmet! Working with such determination, our river Wombles cleared rubbish from a huge stretch of the Wandle, carefully searching every nook and cranny!

WWII Tin Helmet

We had another team patrolling the park with litter pickers and one final team tackling the notorious floating pennywort in the lake within Ravensbury Park. Floating pennywort is an aquatic invasive plant capable of smothering a water body if left unmanaged.  The plant forms huge dense rafts which block out sunlight from the water below, preventing plants and other wildlife from thriving.  Pennywort is famously difficult to manage, and despite having cleared all the pennywort from this area last year, the aquatic menace was back with a vengeance this year!

Floating Pennywort!

Volunteers quickly got stuck in, pushing rafts of pennywort across the lake to be chopped up and removed. Our volunteers entered the lake with clean clothes and clean faces but quickly emerged like mud-monsters from the deep. The hand washing basin had to be changed 15 times during the day!

Muddy Monster

With so many volunteers, for the first time the cake had to be rationed! This month we had a delicious (and very popular) lemon drizzle, a gingerbread with mini gingerbread men and a chocolate toffee bake.

Cake Rationing

So what did we find?

We found 7 tyres, 3 traffic cones, 2 mattresses, 1 lawn mower engine, part of a motorbike, 1 bicycle, 1 air conditioning unit, 1 WWII tin helmet, 1 wheelie bin, 3 children’s bikes, 3 scooters, 4 footballs, 1 coat and over 25 sacks full of drinking cans, bottles and other rubbish!

The Rubbish Pile

Scrapheap challenge anyone?

Huge thanks to: Michael who helped us load and unload the van; Sally, Ann and Carol for catering for 84 volunteers and Tony and Stan and the Merton Waste Management Team for organising the removal of the rubbish.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: A Belloni, Abigail, Aditya, Aheesan, Aimee, Akelya, Alex, Andrea, Annabel, Anne, Anthony, Bella, Bill, Camille, Carol, Charles, Chelsea, Conner, David H, David Ho, Dennis, Dhuvarahan, Diana, Dyana, Eleaia, Gideon, Gillian, Hannah, Helen, Henry, Holly, Ivan, Jackie C, Jackie F, Jagada, Jamie, Jane, Jez, Joe F, Joe P, John B, John D, John N, Jon, Karlon, Kaylin, Keith, Konsydntin, Lyn, Madison, Margaret, Mark, Maryam, Maurice, Megan L, Megan R, Michael, Mike, Nav, Nicole, Patrica, Per, Peter, Rob, Robert, Rose, Roseanne, Saffron, Sally, Sara, Selin, Shakera, Simon, Sofia, Stephen, Tadge, Tasmin, Theo, Victoria and Wayne.

Until next month!


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