Paddleboarders call for volunteers from Sudbury area to support effort to rid River Stour of litter
A community drive to help keep a Suffolk river clean is set to kick off this month, in response to rising levels of litter since the coronavirus pandemic began.
The Paddle Company, based at the Henny Swan pub in Great Henny, is seeking to clean up 26 miles of the River Stour, after signing up to the Million Mile Clean initiative launched by environmental charity Surfers Against Sewage.
Volunteers are encouraged to sign up to the company’s clean-up scheme, which will navigate a different stretch of the river on paddle boards in each session, starting in Sudbury and eventually travelling all the way to the coast at Cattawade.
Richard Jiggins, who launched The Paddle Company in early 2020 and went full time this year, said the clean-up sessions will initially take place once a month, but could happen more regularly, if demand warrants it.
Previously an employee at the former Philips Avent factory in Glemsford, he told the Free Press he had observed a general increase in litter everywhere since the first national lockdown last year, and the effect on the River Stour had followed that trend.
“I had been in an office for 18 years, but I had a passion for paddleboarding, so I thought, why not turn it into a business?”, he said. “As the river is now my office, I wanted to give something back.
“I wanted to look after where I work and take care of the environment. There seems to be more and more litter, especially because of Covid.
“You can tell, just by looking at pictures of Hyde Park, that as soon as lockdown finished, a lot of people went a bit mad. When you drive down the A120, the litter is pretty horrendous.
“Some of it might have been accidentally dropped, but a lot of what you find is beer bottles and drinking cans, which is definitely deliberate. I’ve even found a bottle of hand sanitiser and a couple of face masks in the river.
“I see more and more people at the river cleaning up, and people out with litter pickers and using their initiative to try to make a difference.
“However, with more and more people getting out, as you walk around, you start to see a lot more litter.
“Surfers Against Sewage work to clean up beaches and so on. I saw them on the news a couple of weeks ago, so I thought I could tie in what I’m doing with their goals.
“I want to get people together and start clearing the place up, from Sudbury all the way down to Cattawade. I want to do it every month, but, if the rubbish is that bad, we may expand as we see fit.
“The response from the community has been massive. It does prove that people do care about cleaning up the river and want to take the initiative.”
The first clean-up session is currently scheduled to take place on Wednesday, from 5pm until 7pm.
Due to coronavirus restrictions, a maximum of six people will be able to participate on the first date, but it is hoped that this can be expanded after June, once restrictions around the rule of six have eased.
To find out more about how to get involved, call 07508 420104 or click here.