2017 River Champions

The success of projects aiming to improve rivers for wildlife and people is largely influenced by the involvement of volunteers. The River Restoration Centre understands the importance of this contribution and wishes to acknowledge those that may otherwise not get recognition.

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‘River Champions’ seeks to recognise and celebrate the outstanding efforts of individuals contributing to improving rivers for wildlife and people outside of their day-to-day roles.

Congratulations to the 2017 'River Champions'!  

Below briefly details how the 2017 River Champions have contributed to river improvement in their area.  RRC will be individually featuring each River Champion on social media and in our monthly bulletin throughout the year.

Euan Bull

Euan regularly volunteers with The Crane Valley Project, implementing river enhancement projects in the urban catchment of the River Crane in London.  He has been essential in delivering the aims and objectives of The Crane Valley Project.  His efforts have increased the capacity of London Wildlife Trust to train volunteers in river restoration techniques such as installing brash berms, flow deflectors and coir rolls, and removing toeboards.  Euan also works to improve the green spaces the River Crane flows through for the benefit of local people and his willingness to share his knowledge has built a committed group of volunteers.

"It has been very rewarding to receive recognition for my participation in helping the London Wildlife Trust improve the River Crane as a wildlife habitat. I believe rivers are important, especially in places like London, where they not only provide a range of habitats for wildlife and also green spaces for people to enjoy." - Euan Bull

Nick Fysh

Nick has played an integral part in protecting, enhancing and restoring the River Stour in Kent with the Kentish Stour Countryside Partnership since 1999.  Nick has an extensive understanding of specific reaches of the river and the wildlife that utilise it due to his daily visits so has been instrumental in converting the river to a more natural state.  Locally native brown trout numbers continue to increase with his dedication to identifying redds and managing spawning gravels after improvement works.  He also supports educational activities and engages with the local communities and professional organisations. 

"I am extremely proud to be a small part of the giant watery jigsaw puzzle that helps our rivers to function as the key to numerous ecosystems" - Nick Fysh

Vaughan Lewis

Vaughan has worked voluntarily and tirelessly for over 30 years with river trusts and local community groups to plan and deliver river restoration projects, chase funding and liaise with regulatory bodies.  Vaughan has a thorough understanding of rivers and their inhabitants and a long-term commitment to improving these environments for both people and wildlife.  Early on, Vaughan focused on in-channel river improvements (and he still does!) but now tries to work with river trusts to focus outcomes on a catchment scale.  He is now well practised at working through the challenges that river restoration projects face.

Patrick McNeill

Patrick spends at least 13 days a month monitoring and reporting on the condition of the River Lea for Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust.  He also spends time giving community talks about the Lea catchment.  Over the last 5 years he has brought together and inspired his community to embrace their local river and the Catchment Based Approach, giving him the local nickname of 'The River Man'.  Working with the parish council and landowners, Patrick has developed and delivered 15 projects to enhance the river, notably the near complete eradication of Himalayan Balsam from his town.  

"The most important part of my role as a local River Champion is keeping in touch with the riparian land-owners, advising and learning from them. The RRC award has helped to raise my profile locally" - Patrick McNeill

Martin Moore

Martin has worked to improve water environments for over 40 years and, with interested folk, established the Loddon Fisheries & Conservation Consultative in the Loddon catchment in 2006, becoming its first Chair. He launched numerous schemes including Loddon Rivers Week and works on pollution prevention/management.  Martin, along with significant help from Phiala Mehring (Loddon Basin Flood Action Group) and Ian Watson (Barbel Society), leads volunteer practical river restoration days. This leadership inspires groups of volunteers across the Loddon catchment and has engaged thousands of people to commit and connect to nature. He has been instrumental in bringing flood and environment groups together to form a long-term partnership.

"Look! How lovely is that splendid rippling silver-shining river! Surely it was designed by a special providence for the disposal of all our rubbish"  - With Nets and Lines by T A Waterhouse, 1947

"That is why I do what I do, with invaluable help from many others, and why I greatly appreciate the support and recognition that the award gives us all (not only that, but it's fun and gets me away from the household chores!)" - Martin Moore

Richard Stadelmann

Richard began as a volunteer in 2011 of WWF Switzerland 'Riverwatch', a programme set up to train volunteers in basic aquatic ecology and river restoration so they can design a river restoration project in their local area. Richard went on to design and deliver a 640m river restoration of the ‘Aabach’ in Switzerland which improved the longitudinal connectivity of the river, notably for the endangered lake trout who may spawn in the connected lake Hallwil.  He engaged with regional offices, public authorities and landowners to make the project possible.  Richard has future plans to improve connectivity further. 

"Thank you for your recognition and the award for the River Champions. I consider the award to be an appreciation for my commitment to the benefit of nature and I am delighted to be able to spread the Aabach project further and thus support the use for the restoration of the river waters." - Richard Stadelmann

Chris Stafford

Chris volunteered with Thames21 for 10 years, working to ensure the rivers in south east London were clean and had improved habitat for wildlife. Chris was tirelessly involved in tidal Thames projects such as ThamesWatch, worked on the River Pool enhancement project and was instrumental in installing fish/eel passage along the River Ravensbourne.  He helped on the 3 Rivers Clean Up along the Pool, Ravensbourne and Quaggy rivers, as well as regularly working to remove plastic debris from the River Thames.  He was also featured on Countryfile cleaning the Thames Estuary with Matt Baker!  Sadly, Chris passed away in early May 2017 - our condolences go out to his family, friends and all those that worked with him at Thames21. 

"We at Thames21, and at the London Borough of Lewisham, would not have been able to complete many projects without Chris.  His hard work has enabled Eels to move upstream and for habitats to improve. He worked tirelessly to ensure that the rivers in London SE are the best they could be." - Lawrence Beale Collins, Thames21 

Sam St Pierre

Sam is Chairman of the Ouse & Adur Rivers Trust (OART) and for many years has undertaken weekly biological surveys and monthly water quality surveys in the catchments which he logs, assesses and distributes to interested parties, including the Environment Agency.  Since 1996, Sam has led OART's Redd Watch which provides data of sea trout breeding.  He supports undergraduate and postgraduate students at the University of Brighton by helping them undertake water quality analysis and sharing his knowledge of the River Ouse catchment.  This has led to the formation of two EU-funded Interreg projects (AquaManche and RiskManche) and publications in five international peer-reviewed journals, considerably advancing understanding of river pollution processes.

"It is a great honour for me to have been recognised as a River Champion.  I am indeed indebted to my colleagues in the Ouse & Adur Trust whose support has been paramount in my endeavours." - Sam St. Pierre

Paul Winks

Paul volunteers whenever needed and is key to the success of Friends of the Blue Loop in Sheffield, which would struggle to exist without him.  Paul takes responsibility for a wide and varied range of tasks; he picks up the van, loads up the tools, does the risk assessment, organises volunteers, attends committee meetings and contributes to education projects.  He also attends committee meetings and takes part in work programmes and writing grant applications.  As well as Friends of Blue Loop, Paul also volunteers with the local Rivers Trust and Wildlife Trust on surveying wildlife and identifying areas for improvement. 

"It's nice to be appreciated for the work I do and liked having access to the RRC site for information to help with projects in Sheffield." - Paul Winks