2021 River Champions

River Champions > 2021 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. ‘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 2021 'River Champions'!

View the Press Release

The 2021 River Champions were awarded their certficate at the 2021 UK River Prize Awards Dinner on 21st October at the DoubleTree by Hilton Harrogate Majestic Hotel.

View the online recording of the Awards Celebration








Danny Teasdale

Danny drives and coordinates whole communities to participate in voluntary work within their local environment. Not only did he personally create the Ullswater Community Interest Company, but in only 2 years he has already delivered upto 20 projects on the ground! Following Storn Desmond, the Ullswater CIC has helped turn devastated communities into a community feeling empowered to make a difference to flood risk, the environment and climate change. The rewards for these efforts are already being realised and now everyone across Cumbria and Lancashire wants a ‘Danny in their valley’.

Danny is a member of the local community and has good relationships with the farmers across the whole catchment. Using Danny’s excellent communication skills and ability to motivate others we have been able to work in a much more strategic and joined up way. Projects now spread across adjoining parcels of land, to maximise the opportunities to make a difference on a much bigger scale.


“I am very grateful to have been given a River Champion award. I have spent much of my lifetime working in and on rivers and streams, improving habitats and water quality and latterly natural flood management. To receive acknowledgment for this is very heartening indeed and I must thank Olly Southgate for my nomination”

Danny Teasdale


Jo Bradley

Jo has worked in the field of pollution prevention for over 30 years and is passionate about getting the water quality elements of SuDS designs right. She enjoys looking for opportunities to deliver water treatment devices into SuDS management trains that both prevent pollution, and allow the ponds and wetlands to become excellent habitats for nature. Jo joined Stormwater Shepherds UK in September 2020 and is intent on reducing plastic pollution, both from plastic litter in towns & cities and from microplastic tyre wear particles in road runoff.

She dedicates a lot of her time to voluntary clean ups and helps organise and support litter picks across the UK supporting local groups to create public awareness of the detriment to rivers with a focus on plastics, microplastics and urban pollution. 



"I was thrilled to be nominated as a River Champion in 2021. I’ve been working in pollution prevention for over 30 years and, especially this year with the focus on the impacts of Climate Change, it is easy to become gloomy and to wonder what good all that work has delivered. But then to be reminded that the lovely people at the RRC and the wider world of pollution prevention have noticed my endeavours and considered them to be worthy of an award really lifted me out of my gloom and made me so very happy. The award has reignited my passion and enthusiasm to keep on battling for better water quality across the UK for the next 30 years too. Thank you RRC!"

Jo Bradley


John Whiting

John was a founder member of the River Adur Conservation Society in 2007 which went on to merge with the Sussex Ouse Conservation Society in 2011 to become the Ouse & Adur Rivers Trust (OART). Since then, John has been an active Trustee of OART, attending events and shows to promote our work and has been instrumental in developing the organisation to its current position as well as developing and delivering several fish pass projects across the catchment and, through his long-established relationships with landowners and angling clubs, facilitating the delivery of a wider range of projects. Since 2011 John has co-ordinated citizen science based water quality testing on the Adur alongside the River Adur Sea Trout watch since, co-ordinating volunteers and collecting data on spawning areas, following this up with projects to improve spawning habitats across the catchment. 

Having recently turned 90, John has decided it’s time to step down from the OART Board of Trustees. We feel he is a most worthy River Champion having been committed to improving rivers, entirely voluntarily, over the past 14 years, not only with OART but as a Trustee of the Arun & Rother Rivers Trust and Vice-Chair of Henfield & District Angling Society. Johns’ ability to engage with a wide range of people and his commitment to passing on his extensive knowledge of the River Adur is both inspiring and highly valued. Always willing to spend days on the riverbank, in the channel or clamber over fences and stiles (always with a smile), when many would have hung up their wader years before, is a testament to his dedication which you can’t help but find inspiring. John is certainly a local champion and his devotion to rivers should be recognised.

"I am very grateful that my Ouse and Adur Rivers Trust (OART) colleagues have given me the honour of nominating me as a River Champion. I was until recently a Trustee of ARRT and remain a Trustee of the Arun and Rother Rivers Trust (ARRT). I founded the River Adur Conservation Society (RACS) in 2007 which later merged with OART. I have been interested in sea trout and their conservation for many years, when I succeeded in taking photos of sea trout leaping in a small weir pool on a Adur headstream and sent them to the predecessors of the EA, I was subsequently asked over several Christmas and Boxing Days to keep an eye on the brood stock which was penned in a small sluice about a mile from the house awaiting stripping, the eggs then sent to the hatchery, the whole operation being done with much secrecy.

I am very fortunate in now owning the weir pool referred to and about 900 metres of one bank of the stream. With the assistance of volunteers from OART and the Woodland Trust a small wood with 1025 trees has been planted in part of the field adjacent to the stream the trees are all native with a basis toward oak, this is on the south bank and will in time provide shade for fish. I have been involved in gravel augmentation projects on the Adur and its headstreams, the Western Rother and its headstreams, several projects on the River Meon including removal of small weirs, small projects on the River Hamble, also at Barcombe Mills on the River Ouse, an easement to assist sea trout. I have also been involved in the many day to day tasks which are the duty of a river Trustee, unfortunately after a period in hospital, I’m now having problems with an injury to my right foot which affects my mobility."

John Whiting


Jean Wilson


Jean gives up a considerable amount of time to help with work on the River Wyre. She has also given up space in her house and garden to provide a lab and storage facilities for equipment and materials. Jean's main roles are that of consultant ecologist, educational adviser and community engagement co-ordinator. Her knowledge of the River Wyre estuary and its environs has been invaluable in supporting a number of Wyre Rivers Trust projects.

Jean was also the instigator of the BioBlitz's which have become a triennial activity sine 2015, as many species as possible are recorded in '24 hours', we now have 3 years of invaluable data for reference and analysis. In preparation for the BioBlitz's she has organised Ecology for All Courses aimed at educating 'everyone' to capture and identify terrestrial and marine invertebrates, during the COVID-19 pandemic these courses were presented as videos on YouTube.

Jean is Vice Chair of the Royal Society of Biology NW, a member of Fylde Bird Club, a member of the CASTME panel, an NGO, a volunteer Wyre Countryside Ranger and is on the steering group of the Wyre Waters Catchment Partnership/WRT. Along with her networking skills this has ensured that any of the projects, public and educational engagements will be supported by a professional, knowledgeable and enthusiastic band of volunteers.

Although Jean has retired from her post as Head of Science and Curriculum Leader for Coastal Ecology and Marine Biology her passion and enthusiasm for the natural environment and in particular the Wyre catchment has not diminished. Whenever the WRT need help in the 'field', Jean is always eager to offer her support and has been involved in beach cleans and strandline surveys with primary school groups, tree planting, water analysis surveys, trawling the Wyre Channel and analysing the catch, trawling for and tagging Smelt.

Jean is also a Parish Councillor and as such is constantly made aware of the pressures on the Wyre Estuary, she highlights the issues at council meetings and forums that could have damaging effects from planning and misuse, endeavouring to mitigate any environmental impacts.

"I was incredibly proud to have my volunteering activities and passion for the environment being recognised with the award of River Champion by the RRC. My nomination by the Wyre Rivers Trust is seriously appreciated, the fact that they trust my judgements and are confident to consult and act on my ideas, as well as include me in many projects has made my retirement a very positive and fulfilling experience. Thank you both."

Jean Wilson


Rick Battarbee

As coordinator of Addingham Environment Group and a member of Addingham 4 Becks Project, Rick helped shape the project as Steering Group member and Beck Steward. He has been instrumental in moving the project forward and linking it into wider work along the River Wharfe. Alongside this Rick has worked with the Addingham Primary School Scheme to create a wetland reserve for learning, biodiversity and SuDS.

In retirement, Rick is fundamental to the iWharfe project. Using his wealth of experience as an eminent academic scientist at UCL, to devise and organise the Citizen Science River Health checks in 2020 and 2021, investigating nutrient and bacteria levels and invertebrate populations. This evidence base underpins Rick’s advocacy for improving the River Wharfe, Ilkley Clean River Group’s application or bathing water status - leading to Rick being a member of the Steering group of the Yorkshire Water Wharfe Partnership Board alongside his iWharfe involvement.

Work to improve the River Wharfe would not be as strong, without his scientific knowledge, leadership and commitment. Rick works by spotting opportunities, making links between ideas, different groups and interests, bringing people together and organising/encouraging action on the ground. With Addingham 4 Becks this has resulted in good knowledge of the flooding in December 2015 and events since then, good links between the community and the local council alongside improvements to biodiversity in the sub catchment and flood resilience in the village.

Rick has an evidence-based approach of “Find out what we have, then work out what can/needs to be done”. His initial investigations into bacterial levels and the water quality of the River Wharfe underpinned the successful application for bathing water at Ilkley. The work has led from full river health checks, onto identifying pollution sources and what can be done to improve water quality.

Rick has carried forward his academic work at UCL on freshwater ecosystems and environmental change into his retirement. His ability to tell a story from the data he has gathered and to convey key messages to communities and organisations has enabled beneficial change and progress to be made on the River Wharfe. Working with Rick is inspiring and challenging. Inspiring in how he motivates those around him, involves people, sees the bigger picture, and works to improve the Wharfe catchment.  Challenging in the level of commitment he brings to it and the rate at which the work grows, and projects gain a life of their own. Each conversation, each piece of work brings new elements to think about, work with and use to improve the projects.



Tony Booker

Tony is the Chair of the Colne Valley Fisheries Consultative and works to engage and coordinate angling clubs. Most recently, Tony has worked with the Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust to deliver workshops aimed at arming angling clubs with the skills to develop management plans for their sites, maximising the biodiversity potential of fisheries. Now, Tony’s attention is firmly on improving water quality, and he has engaged both Affinity Water and Thames Water to deliver targeted water testing with the aim of locating sources of pollution and developing solutions to tackle these.

Tony has been instrumental in bringing many important projects to fruition, including Herculean efforts to tackle invasive species such floating pennywort in the Colne Valley, by developing monitoring apps, coordinating volunteer teams for manual removal, and critically assisting CABI in the development of biological controls.

Tony has also been fundamental in raising the issue of pollution up the agenda of government agencies and water companies, ensuring that incidents are responded to appropriately and promptly. He is often the first on site  – no matter what time of day or what the weather – when a pollution incident occurs, and without his efforts, pollution of the River Colne would be much more severe.

Tony has also been instrumental in the reestablishment of water voles on the River Colne, working closely with Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust to trap mink, improve vole habitat and monitor their presence.

Tony is an incredibly unique individual – able to communicate and connect with people from all walks of life, from anglers and conservationists to senior policy makers. His knowledge and infectious enthusiasm for the Colne Valley make him an incredibly effective leader, while his relatability and tireless efforts never fail to motivate and inspire others to get involved in improving the river.

Ever since retiring from the London Fire Service many years ago, Tony has committed his life to tackling the issues that threaten the rivers and lakes that he has always treasured so closely. Such is Tony’s dedication to the cause, that he no longer has any time for his main passion that prompted his interest in the Environment of the Colne Valley in the first place. It is now an extremely rare occurrence to phone only to be greeted by an ‘out of office’/’gone fishing’ message!
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