Peter Savage. Blog 1. Week 1. 01/10/19
So, It’s all change for me. This time two weeks ago I was at home, frantically packing up all my possessions, just across the road from the home of the newly promoted, magnificent, Norwich City FC! Born, bred and growing up in a village surrounded by water in the heart of the Norfolk Broads, rivers have always been a major part of my life. During my youth most of my free time involved some kind of activity linked to the waterways. Unlocking the Severn is a project I read about and it instantly had my full attention: A rare fish species that has small populations that are hanging on for dear life, desperately trying to reach their spawning grounds, but are unable to because of structures built by man over 170 years ago… These poor little guys need our help!
I was lucky enough to be appointed as a level 3 apprentice onto the project and started on Monday, September the 23rd. My first week working for the project began in Gloucester Docks. Looking around the impressive Dock warehouses, the National Waterways Museum and meeting my new colleagues at the Canal and Rivers Trust. The following couple of days went by in a blur. Being an observer in activity meetings and a strategy meeting, were ideal opportunities for me to learn more about just how many people and teams are involved. I also learnt about their plans to engage local communities to encourage people to get out and enjoy the benefits the river has to offer. I now feel like I have a much greater understanding of the task in hand.
After the meetings I visited the four man-made weirs on the Severn where fish passes are to be constructed on. Work has already begun on the passes at Diglis and Bevere. At Bevere the construction of the fish pass is already taking shape. I was shown round the site by the Programme Director Jason, and we spotted some footprints left by an Otter. This inquisitive individual was clearly checking out the site to see what the engineers had been up to. The week concluded with me travelling to Saul Junction, on the Gloucester Sharpness Canal, 20 minutes south of Gloucester. A volunteer group from a local college are in the process of digging a pond to attract Great Crested Newts under the watchful eye of Ray from the Canal and Rivers Trust. In between bursts of rain the group managed to remove most of the topsoil and dig in a fence post to help protect the newts from passing dogs that fancy a swim! I was impressed with the determination and spirit of the students and will be keen to revisit in the next couple of weeks to see how they’re getting on.
My main job will be working with volunteers for wildlife conservation. There are many valuable volunteers involved in the project (which I am yet to meet) that survey and monitor the flora and fauna up and down the Rivers Severn and Teme. I’m eagerly anticipating the arrival of a new volunteer officer on the project. I will be working closely with the appointed person to help deliver volunteer sessions. Having some experience working with volunteers in Norwich I understand the importance of their skills. They are to be key in collecting data to help make the project a success. There are also many other volunteering roles available. To find out more about volunteering opportunities on the Unlocking the Severn project please click on the “Get Involved” link below and fill in the form.
I feel that week 1 has been primarily learning about the project. Week 2 promises some really exciting work. I’m meeting our partners at the Severn Rivers Trust and taking part in some revetment work, on the river Teme near Craven Arms in Shropshire, to bolster its banks and to help prevent erosion. I will also take part in some training so I’m able to work alongside trained volunteers to monitor Riverfly numbers – important work which helps conservation groups determine the health of a river. I plan to make regular blog posts throughout my apprenticeship to keep people updated with my role in this magnificent project, but I will also be posting photos on my twitter page. Please feel free to follow me – @PeteAceDriving
Take care out there next to the water. We’ll catch up soon.