Canoe club mammoth effort to help reduce plastic waste

Sophie Walton, member of Canoe Club and Clare Whiteleg from the River Trust.

Sophie Walton, member of the Huntingdon Canoe Club and Clare Whiteleg from the River Trust. - Credit: Huntingdon Canoe Club

Members of Huntingdon Canoe Club organised a litter pick on the river to do their bit to help reduce plastic waste.  

The event, in partnership with The Rivers Trust, took place on Alconbury Brook on Saturday, May 1.  

In just half an hour the team had collected 36.3kg of rubbish and a whopping eight bin bags of litter.   

Sophie Walton, a coach at Huntingdon Canoe Club, said: “I have been at the Huntingdon Canoe Club for the last 15 years and I was previously the chairman.

“We felt as a club, we didn't want to just paddle past litter and we have been doing these litter picks multiple times a year on Alconbury Brook.

"We collected so many facemasks along the river, and the strangest item we found in the water was a car headset. 

“Common items found were ripped or broken up carrier bags plus plastic bottles.  

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“We did a really big haul of the river that day and each had a canoe acting like a bumper truck, with kayaks all round it, picking the litter and we were all teams of less than six.  

“So we were still being very Covid aware and I thought we had done well with our full two tubs.  

“But then I came back and found an entire canoe of litter.

“We plan to do more litter picks this summer.”

Back row left to right: Erik Hurinek, Boris Hurinek

Back row left to right: Erik Hurinek, Boris Hurinek (trainee leader), James Ramsden (chair & coach), Ray Pickering, Phil Mackie (treasurer) Front row Samantha Ahern (secretary & trainee coach), Sophie Walton (coach), Abbie Pearce - Credit: Sophie Walton

Huntingdon Canoe club is based in Hinchingbrooke Country Park and has been established since the 1970s.  

Sophie approached Cambridgeshire Community Foundation for a grant because they received money from the A14 building fund.  

From these two funds, the canoe club were able to purchase new boats from a company in Norfolk and new equipment.  

Clare Whiteleg, from the River Trust, also helped to provide the litter picks and joined them on May 1. 

Sophie said: “Clare feeds back all the information of how much litter we collected, as part of a project that The Rivers Trust are doing, called Preventing Plastic Pollution, which aims at reducing the amount of plastic pollution entering the sea from our rivers.” 

To find out more about the project, visit: