Kayakers cleaning up the River Severn

A group of kayakers are preparing to clean a stretch of the River Severn through Ironbridge next weekend.

Some of the members of Wombourne Kayak Club who will be doing the Million Mile Clean
Some of the members of Wombourne Kayak Club who will be doing the Million Mile Clean

Wombourne Kayak Club is taking part in the SAS Million Mile Clean, a worldwide initiative organised by Surfers Against Sewage to clean up rubbish along coastlines, waterways and streets.

Zoey Rowe is a member of the club. She said: "We are completing a clean-up on the stretch of the River Severn between Dale End to Jackfield Rapids on Saturday, October 9.

"I have been kayaking for around 40 years, and over the last few years I can definitely see that the pollution has got worse."

Telford & Wrekin Council has offered its support to the effort, providing equipment and agreeing to safely dispose of the rubbish the kayakers fish out of the river.

And the pollution is not just the usual drinks containers, disposable barbecues and the like, although that has also got worse with more staycationers visiting the area.

"Some of the guys just go down themselves to places like Jackfield Rapids and pull out traffic cones, metal crash barriers. There was a metal spike in there recently," Zoey said.

Zoey herself is currently recovering from an infection in her eye socket - an infection caught while exploring the water in her kayak.

"I've also had Weil's disease in the past, which is spread through rat urine," Zoey added.

Weil's disease is a form of a bacterial infection also known as leptospirosis that is carried by animals, most commonly in rats and cattle. It can be caught by humans through contact with rat or cattle urine, most commonly occurring through contaminated fresh water.

So with all this contamination in the water, Zoey and the group want to try and clean up the Severn.

Zoey said: "We care for the environment. Through lockdown it was fantastic for my mental health. We were out there all winter, in sub zero temperatures. Cleaning it up is about giving back to the area that has given us so much support, and keeping it clean."

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