Grantham Journal column: Dedicated group of volunteers Keep our river clean

John Knowles
John Knowles
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Grantham is extremely fortunate in having a stretch of the River Witham running close to the town centre.

Not only is this an attractive feature but home to a variety of wildlife including kingfishers, white clawed crayfish and water voles.

Regrettably, a small minority of people choose to spoil things by discarding large amounts of rubbish in and around the river. In 2004 this problem was recognised by Grantham Civic Society who decided to do something about it and Grantham Rivercare was born.

It was decided to adopt the stretch of river from Bridge End Road to Harrowby Mill in Queen Elizabeth Park, a distance of somewhere approaching two miles, and the volume of rubbish we collected on our first few clean ups was monumental.

Since that first clean up the Rivercare Group has been in action about every two months and during that time the volume of rubbish has thankfully reduced.

There have been many challenges along the way, not the least of which was a mattress dumped in the river below the bridge on St Catherine’s Road. With it being full of water it was extremely heavy and took six people to remove with the aid of several grappling hooks.

South Kesteven District Council is very supportive and they arrange for all the rubbish we collect to be taken away for appropriate disposal.

As well as clean ups we have become involved in a variety of other activities. With the help of the Environment Agency we organised a Nature Watch which attracted huge support.

We were pleased to see a number of young people at the Nature Watch and have since followed that up with visits to local schools.

We have also teamed up with the local angling club and have been to see some of their stretches of river. They have undertaken extensive conservation projects locally.

In 2014 we celebrated our tenth anniversary, and did so in some style by winning the Lincolnshire Environmental Award for the best project in the County run by a voluntary organisation. Last year, Rivercare was voted ‘Community Project of the Year’ in the Grantham is Great awards run by the Grantham Journal.

Grantham Rivercare has made a real difference thanks to the dedication of a wonderful group of volunteers who are prepared to turn out in all weathers clearing up the mess made by others.