The Great British Spring Clean is close to the hearts of campaign partners, Thames21 – who will be breaking new ground this weekend by carrying out clean ups on two new sites.
At the first one of eight that Thames21 are running on the weekend of March 3-5, at the iconic RSPB site in Rainham, Thurrock, participants are due to include Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency, and Betsy Bassis, the Chief Operating Officer for the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
They will join dozens of volunteers in a clean up which will kick start the Lower Mardyke Project, in which Thames21 is a partner. Afterwards, volunteers will be offered a free tour of the reserve.
In total, Thames 21 will be putting on four clean ups in Thurrock, run by Emma Harrington, the charity’s Development Manager.
“In the past year we have run nearly 500 events on the River Thames and its tributaries and involved 7,000 people cleaning up litter, cutting back overgrown vegetation, planting or enhancing the riverbed,” she said.
“When people think of the Great British Spring Clean, they might think of it focusing on parks and streets across the UK. But rivers need our love and TLC too. They are wonderful wildlife spaces but tend to be overlooked, and can end up littered as a result.
“Our project officers run clean ups throughout the year, to give people as much chance as possible to get down to their local river, either the Thames or one of its many tributaries.
“Many of those people who got involved in last year’s Clean for the Queen event, have loved it so much they’ve come back to help us again since then.”
London’s leading waterways charity has its roots embedded with Keep Britain Tidy.
Contrary to urban myth, the “21” has nothing to do with the number of rivers on London. It relates to Agenda 21, the blueprint set out for the 21st Century by the United Nations Rio Earth Summit in 1992.
In London, small groups of people living near the river began going down to their local patch of the foreshore to remove the increasing amounts of litter. Meanwhile, a Keep Britain Tidy employee had looked out of his window, noticed the litter on the capital’s iconic River Thames and sent off a funding application which proposed removing the litter in a structured way. ThamesClean was born in 1994 and, a decade later, became the charity Thames21.
The organisation has grown hugely since then, to carry out environmental improvements, carry out research and run education programmes – as well as continue to carry out a huge number of clean ups each year, encouraging volunteers to take ownership of their local neighbourhoods.
The other “first” for the charity will be a clean up at the Welsh Harp Reservoir on the Neasden Recreation Ground, which will be the first community volunteer event at the site run by Thames21.
Other clean ups run by Thames21 this weekend take place in Thamesmead and Edgware, while the charity’s first registered GB Spring Clean event was held at Stanmore Marsh in Harrow last Sunday, followed by two more in Hillingdon along the River Pinn and Fray’s River.
For anyone inspired to lead their own events in future, Thames21 is also starting one of its Leading a Waterway Clean Up courses on Saturday March 4. This is the first day of a two-day course and these are run regularly throughout the year. More details can be found about their training courses on their website http://www.thames21.org.uk/project/training/.
The full list of events this weekend is below.
Friday March 3
Thames clean at the RSPB nature reserve, Purfleet, 10am to 1pm
Meeting point: RSPB Purfleet Environment & Education Centre, New Tank Hill Road
Purfleet, Essex RM19 1ZX
Saturday March 4
Clean Up at Neasden Recreation Ground, Welsh Harp Reservoir 10:00am - 1:00pm
Meeting point: Neasden Recreation Grounds, Aboyne Road, NW10 OEY
Meeting point: Worlds End pub, Fort Road, Tilbury, RM18 7NR
Sunday March 5
Clean Up at Silk Stream Park 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Meeting point: Silk Stream Park, Montrose Avenue, Edgware, HAB
Sunday March 5
Thurrock’s Thames-side Tidy-ups: Grays part one 10:00am - 1:00pm
Meeting point: Grays Beach, Argent Street Grays, RM17 6JF
Sunday March 5
Pitshanger Park Spring Clean 11:00am - 1:30pm
Meeting point: Bandstand in Pitshanger Park.
Entrance via Woodbury Park Road or Meadvale Road London, W5 1NS
Sunday March 5
Thurrock’s Thames-side Tidy-ups: Grays part two. 2:00pm – 4:30pm
Meeting point: Wharf Hotel, Wharf Road South Grays, RM17 6SZ
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