An important aim of this project is to engage communities with the River Severn and the shad. At the heart of this are volunteers called the Diglis Island Guides (or DIGs!) who give up their time to guide groups through the history, geography and importance of the island, the fish pass and the surrounding unique local environment.
The volunteers come from a diverse background but all have the same passion, pride and enthusiasm for the project.
Hi – I’m Heather, I’m 75 and a half and proud to be a DIG!
Until a couple of years ago I was a Trustee of the local Almshouses Charity Trust and I enjoyed working with people in a welfare capacity. I resigned after five years as I felt the focus was shifting away from welfare to a more commercially driven position. I missed the interaction with residents and utilising my skills so was looking for an opportunity to volunteer in some other capacity. Guess what! I went on a pilot tour of Diglis Island and Fish Pass in October last year, at the end of which a call went out for anyone interested in volunteering. I knew in an instant this was for me, and I guess the rest is history.
When I was a mere sprog, my dad used to take me to Diglis weir to see the annual spectacle of watching the salmon leap – coming from Redditch he was in the fishing industry all his life and had an encyclopaedic knowledge of every river in the country with a particular emphasis on game fishing
One of the best things is that everyone I meet – whether it be colleague volunteers or Canal & River Trust staff – are just as enthusiastic and passionate in the project as me. Meeting the other volunteers – DIGs – has been a highlight and many friendships have been forged. We help and support each other along the way and might even have been known to have a drink or two after “work”.
I love meeting the public and letting them in on the secret that is the history of the island and the river, and the amazing feat of engineering involved in the creation the Fish Pass and Viewing Gallery. To see everyone, young and old, enthralled at seeing fish swim and cavort past the viewing window fills me with so much pleasure and pride and this has been made possible thanks to such incredible engineering and the support of everyone involved.
Every tour we do throws up something new: every day is a school day and we are learning all the time from the public, from other guides and from the dedicated Canal & River Trust staff. The support and appreciation from our “boss” Mark Miles and from Lorna Pedersen, and from our adoring public makes it all so very worthwhile and fulfilling.
I just love every minute of it. I’ve come alive again. I’m renewed. But most of all I’m proud and privileged to be a DIG.
Image by Barbara Evripidou