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The River Stewardship Company - Blue Loop Troop

The term is coming to a close and that means SUCV has had its final task of the year. And that means it’s time for me to write my last ever SUCV task blog. Those of you who’ve actually been reading these have probably noticed I seem to enjoy writing them all too much. I admit I will miss this job more than my degree.

Our final task of the year was with a brand new contact for SUCV: The Friends of the Blue Loop Troop (or just the Blue Loop Troop for short). This is a group of volunteers from the local community that manage Sheffield’s waterways, specifically the loop formed through the city by the River Don and Tinsley Canal. The group was set up by the River Stewardship Company and led by Hellen Hornby to get local people involved in restoration of the heavily polluted and degraded waterways, but eventually funding came to a halt. Hellen refused to give up and the group has continued without receiving any funding from the RSC, only receiving occasional donations.

On 14th May, our small group of volunteers set off for Norfolk Bridge in the industrial district of Attercliffe. Much of the Blue Loop Troop’s work takes place in industrial and rather rough areas of Sheffield, but through years of work, the waterways have improved enough that salmon have been reported in the river.

After reaching our destination we were warmly greeted by the members of the Blue Loop, who were an incredibly friendly and knowledgeable bunch, and displayed their understanding of the wild flora and fauna which relied on these waterways: wild garlic, otter, American mink and numerous birds including sand martins. The mink, however, are an introduced pest species and the volunteers are hoping that otters will start eating the mink, as they’re the only thing that will.

For our first task we split into smaller groups to do some litter picking and weeding. I personally worked near a maple tree a little further from the river, removing as many seedlings as possible as they would take over otherwise.

After slightly over an hour of work, we stopped for hot drinks and biscuits, and I shared the leftover chocolates my team won during the SUCV treasure hunt the previous week (for coming last…) After admiring the view of the river for a little while, we resumed work by picking up litter alongside the river. Walking by the water made for rather relaxing work and before we knew it, it was time to finish. Granted, as the Blue Loop Troop only finish at 1pm, this was one of our shortest SUCV tasks. We were having such a great time that we would’ve gladly stayed for longer.

I was pleased with how my final task of the year went; it turned out to be one of my favourites and I hope SUCV will continue working with the Blue Loop Troop for many years to come; I may even drop by on some future tasks to check how the new committee are running things, who knows…?

Thanks to those of you who came on the 14th May and to the Blue Loop Troop for hosting such a great task.

Farewell from Jamie (Task Leader).

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