shad fish on shadventure animated film from unlocking the severn met a weir

We are thrilled to have released an animated film created by local school children and professional film makers. Please watch and share to spread awareness for the story of rare twaite shad migrating on the River Severn! 


Inspiring young people to engage with nature is critical to resetting the relationship between people and wildlife over the years to come. But one river conservation project has gone a step further than just inspiring local youngsters. Working with professional film makers and animators they have harnessed the creativity of the children at a primary school close to a historic new fish pass built to help endangered fish on the River Severn. The children’s drawings, voices, and stop-motion animations have been used to create a charming animated short film that will spread awareness even further.

The children’s vivid illustrations tell the story of two young twaite shad (an endangered species of fish) that migrate into the River Severn from the sea, and face challenges on their journey to reach their historic spawning grounds. The 7-minute animation explains the problems that weirs cause as a barrier to fish, and how a fish pass can be the solution to get them back upriver to spawn.

The film was produced with the very creative input of the children of Cherry Orchard Primary School, Worcester together with project staff from Unlocking the Severn and professional film makers and animations from biggerhouse films. Over the course of 4 days, over 180 year 5 and 6 children took part in the workshops for Unlocking the Severn. Whilst the whole school of more than 600 children were involved in colouring pictures of the shad fish and contributing sound effects.

Tom Stubbs, Film Maker, biggerhouse films explains the process: “The children were a powerhouse of energy. At the end of each session, we carried away a heavy box of precious art treasure. It was amazing to then compress this energy by curating the drawings and voices we’d recorded into this collaborative film.”

The children found the experience very empowering; being shown that positive change is possible for wildlife and able to take an active role in that movement. Rosie Croggon, Education Officer at Severn Rivers Trust comments: “Seeing this animation project come to life has been truly uplifting after a year of delays and upheaval in our school engagement programme due to covid. The collaboration between so many children in the school was a joy to see, and they should all be incredibly proud of the film that they have created!”

Mark Miles, Teacher at Cherry Orchard Primary School comments: “There has been such a buzz in school about joining up with this conservation project. Every day since the animation workshops children have been asking when they can watch the finished film! Now they’ve seen it, they think it’s amazing and are so excited to spot their own artwork. Best of all, the film really effectively tells the story of this rare fish migrating on their local river, and how these fish are finally being helped past barriers built way back in Victorian times.”

Unlocking the Severn is a conservation and river engagement project led by Canal & River Trust, and partners: the Severn Rivers Trust, the Environment Agency and Natural England. It is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the European Union LIFE Nature Programme.

The new film – “Up River! A Shadventure on the River Severn” is available to view above and the Unlocking the Severn YouTube channel. The project hopes that the film will help spread the story of rare fish on the River Severn far and wide and inspire many other children to think about how we can help mitigate human impacts on wildlife.


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