Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park’s canal gets a clean-up from local volunteers

October 17, 2017
By Hellen Hornby, Communities, Engagement and Education Manager at The River Stewardship Company
Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park’s canal gets a clean-up from local volunteers
Over the summer, four practical conservation days were held at Don Valley Moorings as a result of a team effort from Friends of the Blue Loop, Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, Canal and River Trust and Henry Boot Construction.
This project is part of a long-term waterway-improvement scheme coordinated by The River Stewardship Company (RSC) looking at improving the area behind the new Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park and encouraging more people to make use of the Sheffield and Tinsley Canal. The RSC offers a maintenance and management service for waterways around the Yorkshire area and environmental education in schools and on our rivers and canals.
A fantastic group of volunteers came out in force to improve their local area. Tasks on the day included bench and step repairs, vegetation management, litter picking and painting. So far, the Blue Loop has 80 individuals involved, equating to 45 days’ worth of time and £2,250 of in kind contributions to the canal in Darnall. 
We also had 60 year-five pupils from Phillimore Junior School helping with the clean-up task. They carried out a litter survey and used our tools to help get rid of the unsightly rubbish and do a bit of vegetation clearance at the same time. 
The programme is calling for fresh faces to join in and help make a difference. Whether you’re handy with a pair of loppers, have a keen eye for litter or just a passion for the environment, there are spaces accessible for all.
Throughout the clean-up sessions, the volunteers have come across some very bizarre objects which you would not expect to find in a canal. So far, we’ve found a fridge freezer, an industrial size wheelie bin and WW1 rifle mounted grenade found in the River Don in Attercliffe! People fly tip down there and it is so difficult to recover big items from the canal safely.
On September 23-24, Sheffield hosted the inaugural Waterfront Festival to celebrate the waterways in the city. Across the two days, there was an art exhibition featuring Norah Rogerson, Sheila Bury and Joe Scarborough, free boat trips, fishing and canoeing alongside guided walks, food and craft stalls.
It was a tremendous success, with more than 5,000 people visiting Victoria Quays and Kelham Island that weekend. We also had 20 adults and six young people who volunteered over the weekend to support the festival, which equates to £1,557.90 in kind.
We are hoping to secure more funding for next year to enable us to continue working with the community at Don Valley, and ensuring that we can continue to host more events like the Waterfront Festival.
The Friends of the Blue Loop have one more volunteer day this year at Don Valley Moorings, near Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, taking place on Saturday 11 November between 10am and 1pm. If you’d like to get involved, we’d love to hear from you – contact us on Twitter @RiverStewards, find us on Facebook or give us a ring on 0114 354 0012!