Our Latest Star Volunteers Norwich RiverCare - Balsam bashing, litter picking, river loving! Norwich Rivercare started in spring two years ago and have since been busy getting to know their stretch of the River Wensum and taking action to protect it. They are based on the urban fringe of the city where the river winds through flood meadows and wet woodland adjacent to large areas of housing. The group have carried out bat surveys, litter clean-ups and bird surveys. They’ve tried their hand at setting up wildlife cameras, and removing Himalayan Balsam. It is this last activity which has been their focus during the past month. Himalayan Balsam is an invasive plant which spreads very quickly and effectively via its ‘explosive’ seed heads. It grows in dense stands where it out-competes other native species. When it dies back completely in winter, it leaves the river banks bare and vulnerable to erosion. ‘Balsam Bashing’ is simply uprooting the plant before it flowers. The short roots mean the plant can be pulled up very easily, making it a very satisfying task, although one which needs lots of volunteers to keep on top of the problem. Fortunately, the Norwich team have an enthusiastic core of volunteers who’ve been tirelessly working away! They absolutely deserve the accolade of Star Volunteers for their hard work and dedication to protecting the beautiful River Wensum. Bedford RiverCare - 150 star volunteers turned out for the huge Bedford RiverCare 2019 event! The River Great Ouse is looking cleaner, thanks to the wonderful volunteers who turned out for the Bedford RiverCare 2019 event – all 150 of them! Run during the Great British Spring Clean, the event was organised and managed by Bedford Borough Council. Whilst the banks of the River were tidied by volunteers on foot, paddlers from Viking Kayak Club and divers from Bedford Sub Aqua Club concentrated their efforts in-stream. In total 107 bags of litter were removed from the environment, plus two prams, a shopping trolley, four bicycles, various traffic cones and a motorbike! CLEETHORPES BEACHCARE – Peter has been the hardworking, motivated and caring leader for the Cleethorpes BeachCare team since 2017. He has worked tirelessly within his community to involve as many locals as possible in his fight for a litter-free environment, and has collaborated with local businesses, such as Ultimate Packaging and beach-front stores, to encourage sustainable practices within those businesses. Peter has also volunteered his time to appear on BBC’s Inside Out to raise awareness of the mounting problem of litter in North East Lincolnshire. Overall Peter has helped and supported Cleethorpes and surrounding areas to make huge steps in their reduction of marine plastics and waste, and we at BeachCare could not be prouder to have him volunteering under the BeachCare banner! SUTTON-ON-SEA BEACHCARE – Since forming the Sutton-On-Sea BeachCare Group in 2017, #LitterHeroes Ambassadors Jordan and his mum Lianne have been very successful on all accounts. Together Jordan and Lianne have run the Sutton-on-Sea BeachCare group for just over a year, and have had fabulous turn outs. Fifty people turned out to volunteer at their last beach clean where they collected 25 bags of litter. They also featured in a slot on ITV Calendar for their efforts over the summer of 2018. In October Jordan received a British Citizen Youth Award at the Palace of Westminster. He was nominated for his Stranded Mammals Campaign, which aims to provide information to people who come across stranded marine animals on the beach, as well as his extensive volunteering work which includes helping his Mum to lead the Sutton-on-Sea BeachCare group. Of the award, Jordan said “I was bestowed with my medal and felt quite honoured to receive it. It’s wonderful recognition for my hard work and commitment." In the recent past, Jordan has also collected the Marsh Young Volunteer Award for Marine Conservation 2018, and Lincolnshire Youth Citizen of the Year 2017. Despite the short career Sutton-On-Sea BeachCare has had so far, they have already been highly commended by Lincolnshire Environmental Awards and the Royal Horticultural Society for being fantastic ambassadors for Sutton-On-Sea and for keeping the beach clean and safe for all to use. We can’t wait to see what they get up to in the years to come! THORPE GATE AND POTTERS WAY - the RiverCare teams cleaning the Nene 2018 has been a busy year for the River Nene in Peterborough, with a second RiverCare group launched to make the river a friendlier place for wildlife and public alike. After only two official RiverCare events, new group leader Babs and her team have already vastly improved the section of waterway heading east from the Potter’s Way Car Park. The area has an ongoing problem with visitors littering and sometimes fly-tipping in the car park and along the river bank. So far the team have collected around 30 bags of waste, and unusual items such as trolleys, bikes, fishing rods and old tills. Potter’s Way RiverCare joins Harry and his team Thorpe Gate RiverCare to the west, collaborating to cover the river as it runs through the city centre. Both Harry and Babs have been working to develop close relationships with local organisations and community groups, including Anglian Water, who have already sent three groups of staff volunteers to help at clean up events through their Love To Help scheme. Not only have they been making huge improvements to their local environment, they have also been supporting us to make changes to elements of the RiverCare handbook, ensuring the safety of RiverCare volunteers throughout our network. We are very proud to have them making such a difference under the RiverCare banner and look forward to supporting their hard work in the future! COLCHESTER CANOE CLUB - paddling their way to cleaner rivers Colchester Canoe Club have been regularly cleaning a two mile stretch of the River Colne for several years. Under the watchful eye of Steve Waters, they have been part of the RiverCare family for many years. Through the summer they hold Wednesday evening training sessions and paddles along the river, picking up any rubbish as they go along. Their most recent event saw members and friends from two canoe clubs join forces to clean the River Colne in Colchester from the old swimming pool to East Gates weir. They hosted the event along with Wivenhoe Canoe Club (another RiverCare group), and had another brilliant day with 25 RiverCarers on the water of all ages. It was a really fun family-friendly event, with a great result of 10 bags of mixed rubbish, three road cones, a road barrier, a pushbike, a dead eel, and a cuddly toy, pulled out of the river. It was a lovely day for a paddle with lots of wildlife seen and heard including water vole, families of swan, duck and moorhen, butterflies and numerous dragon and damselflies of various species. Steve noted that the amount of rubbish has definitely gone down over the past couple of years so their efforts are really paying off making the river a better place for wildlife and a safer place to paddle. Their next big river clean will be in late September or October to celebrate World Rivers Day, WIVENHOE RIVERCARE are celebrating their second year as part of the RiverCare & BeachCare family. They have had an amazing journey, starting with a few small-scale river cleans to some major events bringing in the wider community from the nearby University of Essex and Tesco. This all started with Bruce Langley and the enthusiasm of the Wivenhoe Kayak and Canoe Club, who wanted to clean up the river that they enjoy paddling along. Bruce would often post photos of his trips along Roman River with his kayak laden with litter, mostly plastic items that he collected along the way. Through local funding and the continued support of Tesco, Bruce has been able to purchase two new Canadian Canoes that will be invaluable in helping the river clean ups. So far the group has collected over 250 bags of rubbish from the environs of the river plus eight shopping trolleys, gas cylinders and a motorbike, and their efforts have really made a huge difference. They have been separating out the reusable plastics for recycling where possible. Their next river clean is scheduled over the weekend of 3-4 March in support of the Great British Spring Clean and they would welcome along anyone who wants to help them out. Southend BeachCare is beginning their third year of cleaning beaches along the coast from Shoeburyness to Leigh on Sea, and what a difference they are making. Huge thanks to Win O’ Sullivan our Southend group leader who is pulling this all together in South Essex. You can find out more about the group and their activities via their facebook page. We will be bringing a #2MinuteBeachClean board to Southend this spring so look out for news. They have been collecting and separating all the plastic items they find along the beach, initially for interests sake but this hard work is beginning to show some really interesting results. The biggest offenders, not surprisingly have been cotton bud sticks, straws and bottle caps. These smaller items have either been flushed down the loo, or discarded on the street and washed into drains where they find their way into the sea and ultimately washed back on to the beach. The good news is that since retailers and manufacturers have made the switch back to biodegradable cotton bud sticks last year the group is finding less of the offending plastic sticks. The group has branched out and joined forces with other local environmental groups to tackle large projects such as Two Trees Island, Leigh-on-Sea, which has an ongoing problem with visitors littering the car park and in more extreme cases, fly-tipping larger items along the shoreline. Win is developing a close relationship with local authorities to tackle and hopefully solve this problem. Celebrating our newest RiverCare group in Grimsby and their massive launch event for the national Great River Rescue campaign. Kicking off with a real splash - 96 volunteers helped throughout the day-long event and 17 different organisations came together. We removed a staggering three transit vans full of mixed litter - from trampolines and bikes to office chairs and giant teddies – as well as 11 wheelie bins full of recyclables and a tractor trailer full of organic matter after the banks were strimmed post litter removal. The river went from grot spot to spotless! Everyone who passed by commented on how good it looked and how impressed they were. And many people asked if they could join us next time. It was a real success for Elaine and Glyn on their first event. We are all grateful to VANEL, IGNITE, Grimsby Police, EFAMS first aid team, the rotary club, civic society, local residents, Duke of Edinburgh award student, ASDA community champion, and many more for their hard work and support. And to the local council for the litter collection. Our RiverCare officer Fiona said, “ I’m so proud of our new group and the people of Grimsby. They came together and made a real difference for their town. After such a fantastic start, I’m looking forward to supporting this group in going from strength to strength.” Find out how to get involved. Proudly welcoming our newest group - Hunstanton BeachCare Hunstanton BeachCare launched with their first beach clean on June 10th to celebrate World Oceans Day. The main conservation theme for World Oceans Day was preventing marine litter and finding solutions to plastic pollution. The volunteers focused on removing all of the small litter and plastic pieces that had gathered in the strandline to prevent it making its way back into the ocean and harming wildlife. After a successful day the volunteers had cleared the main beach of problematic micro plastics and small debris that had amassed and entwined itself in seaweed. Hunstanton BeachCare will be taking on different areas along the West Norfolk coast and will be monitoring litter and carrying out wildlife surveys along with litter picks. Group leader, Vicky Payne, hopes to motivate others to volunteer and encourage them to help save our coastal habitats, “The environment is my passion and I believe everyone can help in some way to protect it. Hunstanton BeachCare is a way for me to help, as well as (hopefully) inspiring others to do so too.” If you want more information about Hunstanton BeachCare, head over to their Facebook page to stay up to date with their latest news and events.