cartoon twaite shad (fish) waves a flag which reads 'shad flag competition'. Set against a background of light blue and navy twaite shad.

This May, we celebrate the return of the rare migratory fish – the twaite shad – to the River Severn. To mark this year’s historic shad run, we are asking for your help to design a special flag. The flag will feature a shoal of 10 shad – one for each of the towns along the River Severn that the shad once swam though on their epic spawning migration. This year, as we unlock the river for them once again, we are looking for 10 shad illustrations to include on the flag! Find out more details and how to get involved below.

A historic year for fish of the River Severn

This spring will be a special one for a rare migratory fish – the twaite shad – that migrates on the River Severn every spring to spawn in fresh water.

For the first time in nearly 180 years, the shad will be able to reach their historic spawning grounds (where they lay their eggs) in the middle and upper reaches of the river.  Using a series of  4 new fish passes, they will finally be able to find a way past weirs between Worcester and Stourport that have blocked their migration path since Victorian times. The new fish passes includes the 100m long fish pass at Diglis with its unique underwater viewing window and 3 more fish passes further upstream.

Illustrate the twaite shad picture for a chance to feature on our new flag!

We want to celebrate the return of the shad this special year, and every year going forward.  So we are asking for your help!

We’d like you to illustrate this picture of a shad. You can colour the fish in any way you choose, or even used mixed media or collage.  We will choose our favourite 10 illustrated shad for the design of a new flag. We will then raise this flag every year in the spring, whilst the shad are swimming up our river. We’re inviting an array of talent to get involved. Whether you are a talented artist or just keen to have a go, adult or child, there is room in our shoal for you!


Please print out the template on A4 paper and then be as creative as you like to illustrate it using any 2-dimensional media including: paint, pens, pencils, collage etc!

The twaite shad themselves have some beautiful iridescent colours that may inspire you.  Check out pictures of shad on our website:

Or perhaps your design might reflect one of the 10 towns along the River Severn that the shad once swam though – Gloucester, Tewkesbury, Upton on Severn, Worcester, Stourport, Bewdley, Bridgenorth, Ironbridge, Shrewsbury, and finally, the furthest town that we have historical records for shad – Welshpool.

How to send us your shad picture

Please include your name, age (if under 18) or confirmation that you are over 18, your nearest town, and your phone and email contact details and post your illustrated shad to:


National Waterways Museum Gloucester

Llanthony Warehouse

The Docks




To arrive no later than Friday 18th March.

Terms and Conditions

1. The closing date for entries is 3pm Friday 18 March 2022
2. No purchase is necessary.
3. To enter, please print the shad template linked above on A4 paper and colour in or illustrate as you desire. You can use any 2-demensional media (such as paint, pen, pencil, collage etc.) so long as the final artwork can be posted and scanned in a conventional flat-bed scanner (bulky and 3-dimensional artwork are therefore unsuitable).
4. Entries must be received in hard copy as the winning illustrations will need to be scanned in very high resolution to be included in the print-ready artwork for our shad flag (entry via photograph or standard resolution scans is therefore not be sufficient).
5. Entries should be sent via post with the correct postage paid to: SHAD FLAG COMPETITON, National Waterways Museum Gloucester, Llanthony Warehouse, The Docks, Gloucester GL1 2EH
6. Entries must include the following information: the entrant’s name; age if under 18, or confirmation that the entrant is over 18; their nearest town, and their contact details – telephone number and email address.
7. If you wish to send us any other information about your relationship to the River Severn, how you feel about the shad, or the design you have created, we would love to hear it.
8. Unlocking the Severn can accept no responsibility for entries lost in the post.
9. Unfortunately, Unlocking the Severn will not be able to return artwork to entrants.
10. Submissions must be the entrants’ own work.
11. The winners will be selected by a panel of judges including representatives from the Unlocking the Severn project and illustrator Andy Robert Davies.
12. The winning illustrations will be selected on the basis of visual appeal and working well with other selected illustrations in the shoal design. If possible, consideration will also be given to entries that represent the 10 towns along the shad fish’s River Severn migration through the local residency of the artist, or perhaps even elements of the design.
13. Anyone can enter the competition, including those already involved in the Unlocking the Severn project.
14. Entrants are free to submit up to 5 different shad illustration entries.
15. Up to 10 entries will be chosen to feature on a commemorative shad flag that will be printed and raised to mark the shad run along the River Severn.
16. No cash or alternative prize is available.
17. The winners’ first name and nearest town will be published after the competition closes, or by 1 May 2022 on
18. By submitting their entry, entrants confirm that they are happy for their name and nearest town to be published in this way and used in promotion to press and on social media.
19. The judge’s decision is final, and no correspondence will be entered into regarding the competition.
20. By participating, entrants confirm that they grant Unlocking the Severn and our partner organisations (Canal & Rivers Trust, Severn Rivers Trust, Environment Agency and Natural England) full permission to use your artwork for the promotion of the Unlocking the Severn Project and for the non–commercial purposes of marketing, promotion, discussion and education, in media, printed materials, websites and social media and in press activity.
21. By submitting their entry, entrants confirm they consent to their personal data being used for the purpose of administering this competition. Further privacy policy details are available here.
22. Unlocking the Severn reserves the right to substitute members of the judging panel or alter this terms and conditions as necessary.
23. Entry into the competition will be deemed to constitute acceptance of these terms and conditions.




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