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.
I am 52, a biologist and have taught science in Worcestershire middle schools for 30 years and I am a keen environmentalist. Unfortunately at the start of the pandemic I had to resign from my post due to some serious medical issues and began to withdraw socially, not even walking the dog. I lost confidence and no longer wanted to engage with anyone. After a long recovery post-surgery I found myself with time on my hands but had a sense of frustration at no longer having vocational goals.
A chance conversation led me to Diglis Island and from that moment on I was hooked. A whole new world opened up to me. I knew nothing of the history of the area and learning about it brought everything to life. I am a biologist and have always been passionate about the flora and fauna of the area, but had no idea about the innovative new project at Diglis including the building of the fish pass.
One of the things that I was pleasantly surprised to discover in my intriguing and exhilarating tour guide role was how much I’ve enjoyed meeting the other tour guides and members of the community. They are all so interesting and have such diverse backgrounds and experiences. We all have the wonderful project in common and it’s amazing to see how much passion, joy and enthusiasm it’s stirred up in us. It’s been a really fun ride for sure and I’ve found it special and unique.
Through this project I have been able to connect with the outdoors which made a remarkable difference to my recovery on a physical and mental health level. I feel very proud and fortunate to be part of this and to continue learning and widening my experience. Along the way I have learnt and developed new skills as well as making a set of fantastic new like-minded friends and feel more connected than ever to our beautiful local environment. I learn something new every time I take a party of visitors on a tour of the island and fish pass.
I feel regenerated and able to deal with day to day life again with renewed vigour, thanks to Mark Miles and his team and everyone involved.
My reward for giving up my time is to witness the enthusiasm of everyone of all ages and backgrounds discovering and learning about Unlocking the Severn.
Image by Barbara Evripidou