Woman's handbag and gold rings fished out of Severn by kind-hearted kayaking cleaners

A lady's handbag and gold jewellery were fished out of the River Severn and returned to their gobsmacked owner after a kayaking club's clean-up.

Wombourne Kayak Club were helping out by doing a river litter pick. On the paddleboard is: Zoey Rowe
Wombourne Kayak Club were helping out by doing a river litter pick. On the paddleboard is: Zoey Rowe

Wombourne Kayaking Club regularly takes to the water to fish things like tyres and traffic cones out but Saturday's clean-up of the small stretch from Dale End to Jackfield in the Ironbridge Gorge had a little surprise.

"We found a handbag with gold rings and a driving licence inside," said Zoey Rowe of the club.

"It was for an address in Madeley so I took it round and dropped it off. She was very happy and said she had lost it the night before!"

The other detritus pulled out of the water in the two hour clean-up included a bike, scaffold poles, and the "normal junk," said Zoey. They also found road safety signs and barriers.

The 12 members of the club were joined by the Severn Rivers Trust and local councillor Carolyn Healy who helped collect junk from the bank.

"We filled a Canadian kayak with so much rubbish we looked like Steptoe and Son," said Zoey, who is the club's clear access, clear waters officer.

A particular issue this time was with the amount of garden waste, including branches, that they found. That kind of rubbish can cause access and snagging issues in the river, Zoey said.

"It is quite clear that people are cutting down trees and putting them in the river, which causes hazards on the water," said Zoey.

"It just needs people to be a bit more caring. The river looks after us, so we should look after it. It does not take much to do the right thing."

She added: "It is shocking to see so much rubbish in a matter of hours on such a short stretch."

The level of the river is so low at the moment that the members were able to spot items on the bottom of the river and fish them out.

The kayakers are also taking part in Severn Water Watch which involves a citizen science project where they take samples of water to test for quality.

Zoey said: "We have all felt ill at some point and can test for nitrates and phosphates. We took the first samples last week and it was all clear. With there being hardly any rainfall quality isn't an issue at the moment.

"After it rains it brings in all the pollution. We would like to add ammonia to the tests as that would tell us about sewage."

Wombourne Kayak Club was the first club in the UK to receive the Quality Club and the Clear Access Clean Waters Champion award. The CACW award was set up by British Canoeing.

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