Kingston University students take on Thames ‘Underwater River Clean’


Students cleared shopping trolleys, traffic cones, chairs and even a birdbath!


By Jemima Owen

Shopping trolleys, traffic cones, chairs and a birdbath were just some of the bizarre items cleared from the Thames riverbed by Kingston University students last month.

The Underwater River Clean, organised by second year student Chris Elliott,  took place on September 17.

Mr Elliot wrote in his blog: “Many, many thanks to all those who helped in both the planning and the damned hard work on the day. We took an ambitious idea and with a level of assistance that surprised a cynical Cornishman like me, made it happen.”

Twenty-six student volunteers put in 177 hours of voluntary work to clear the river of discarded objects – including four car tyres and a hoover – that could potentially harm wildlife and river users.

A bucket collection for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution – “the charity that saves lives at sea” – also raised £50.

The event was supported by a dozen local organisations: Aquanaut, KUSCO, the Royal Borough of Kingston Council, Metropolitan Police, Environment Agency, The Ram, The Harts Boatyard, Kingston Co-Operative Bank and Kingston RBS

Volunteer coordinator Jemma Houghton praised the team’s energy and enthusiasm and the support shown by the community.

“Together we were able to make the project a huge success,” she said.

Yet organisers were keen to stress that while a huge amount of waste was collected, it was only from a very small area of river.

A trained SCUBA diving instructor, Mr Elliot encountered a number of obstacles in the process of planning the event.

But with technical help from the likes of river cleaning charity Thames 21 and extra manpower from environmental organisation Veolia, assistance was available at every step.

Kingston University Students’ Union hope to run another river clean on November 3, using lessons learned in September to increase efficiency.

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