Volunteer Voice: River Pool

Volunteer Voice is when we hand over our project updates to one of our volunteers. Here is Michael’s account of what’s been happening on the River Pool.
IMG_0562For the last 5 years and primarily under the management of Vic  Richardson Thames21 has been steadily improving the River Pool, part of the Waterlink Way just South of Catford, Lewisham.  Over those years  he has supervised and managed numerous Corporate Groups on river walks,  clean ups and landscape management  work on the River Pool  and by virtue of his holding regular Wednesday work sessions has established a team of (mostly retired men) who often seemingly  delight in  the mud, cold and wet of working in a river (especially when it’s not them who just  fell in  or discovered their waders had a leak).
This dedicated team  relish tackling  foreign invasive species such as Japanese Knotweed, Himalayan Balsam and the dreaded Giant Hogweed, and  in the course of giving vent to their destructive streak have made expeditions upstream  and even to the river Brent in pursuit of their enemy.
In the river itself and using cut branches to make  flow deflectors and berms;  moving unmeasured wheelbarrow loads of soil the volunteers have  introduced variety and interest in the current and flow of the river and its margins  to  improve the biodiversity of the river between  Catford and Bellingham Green
Risking heat exhaustion and cracked ribs they have brought down mighty willows to allow light to reach the river, carved out steps and made  riverside paths, constructed  dead hedges and dead fences and collected litter all  to improve the river, its landscaping and associated vegetation
In addition to the above two years ago  Thames21 hired a digger to recover an overgrown pond, some 20 m from the river in a long neglected and  forgotten wetland nature reserve. This proved to be the starting basis for the creation  of  a Friends of River Pool group, getting a grant from the Mayor’s Clean up fund for, amongst other things, the building of a dipping platform from old tow boarding for the pond,and restoring some 200 sq metres of Wetlands; at a stroke creating a SUDS (sustainable drainage system) and preventing a nearby allotment site being flooded
The number of the individuals who regularly attend are now too numerous to individually list but  mention should be made of Richard,  master of the leaky waders and  the heavey iron spike used to break up the wooden tow boards  that formed the sides and to release the formerly canallised river; Jonothan, a specialist in using bramble to create natural defences against human anti social activity and Chris, keeper of the team’s pesticide injector guns and a keen and experienced seeker- out -of and destroyer of Japanese Knotweed and Giant Hogweed.