On a rather damp and chilly Thursday morning in early November, an enthusiastic group of over 20 volunteers embarked on a mission to clean up a 400-metre stretch of the River Arun, upstream of the Worthing Road Bridge in the West Sussex town of Horsham.
I was delighted to see such a great turnout of volunteers, many of whom were from the local Horsham Green Gym community group. Around half a dozen staff members from the ‘Arun and Rother Connections project’ partner organisations as well as from Horsham District Council were also in attendance.
We gathered in the riverside park near St Mary’s Church at 10am and after a short introduction and a health and safety briefing, we got stuck in and worked industriously till 1pm (although a short tea and biscuit break was gladly received by all at the halfway point).
The group was split up into teams in order to attend to different parts of the river. Those with chest waders pulled out shopping trolleys and baskets, push bikes, traffic cones, car tyres and other larger items of rubbish that had been carelessly thrown into the river channel. Others were tasked with picking up glass bottles and plastic waste from bankside areas. Another group used loppers to cut back the overgrown vegetation along the riverside path and along both of the riverbanks. It was a great group effort, and a marvellous feeling of accomplishment after seeing the large pile of rubbish that was hauled out of the channel and collected from around the banksides in just three hours!
Thank you to all the wonderful volunteers that participated. Your hard work has helped to improve the condition of the river for people and for wildlife, and to raise the profile of the river corridor as a place to enjoy the great outdoors.
P.S.: Judging by the positive comments we received from the local community on the day of the clean-up and the feedback that landed in my inbox from David Jessop, Horsham Green Gym’s coordinator a few days later, the event was a success:
“Horsham Green Gym members were pleased to be able to take part in the clean up of part of the River Arun. Thank you for your assistance in making this possible. I went to have a look at the weekend and I can tell the difference. One of our members lives very close to where we were working and tells me that two of her neighbours mentioned that they had seen us working and were pleased with what had been done.”