Kettering litter picking hero gifted kayak for waterways clean-ups

Nick Urquhart has been cleaning up the rivers of Northamptonshire

By Alison Bagley
Saturday, 22nd May 2021, 7:00 am

A veteran Kettering litter picker has been gifted a canoe to help him with his programme of river clean-ups across the county by a company representing waterways.

Nick Urquhart had started a crowdfunder to raise money for a kayak to enable him to reach litter-strewn river banks inaccessible by foot - part of his one-man crusade to clean up the river.

Staff from The River Nene Regional Park spotted his online appeal and stepped in to provide a boat for his clean ups of the River Ise, Slade Brook and River Nene.

Nick receives his kayak from Corinne Muir

Kathryn Hardcastle, chief executive officer of River Nene Regional Park, said: “When our team saw Nick’s crowdfund campaign we were so inspired by his story and his tireless efforts to care for these important, and often forgotten waterways, that we chose to support his with the equipment he needs to continue his efforts.

"River Nene Regional Park exists to support the natural environment of the Nene Catchment, and so much of what we do takes place at large scale, driven by the communities that live and work in this special place. We saw Nick's shout for help as an invitation to do something that has real value and meaning in our own ‘backyard’."

Earlier this year, the dedicated litter picker made the grim discovery of pollution in the River Ise when tens of thousands of sanitary items had been disgorged into the watercourse.Mr Urquhart had planned a river clean up from the confluence of the Slade Brook - where it flows into the River Ise behind the fishing lake at Wicksteed Park - to its source at Harrington.

It was not an easy task but it was made much harder when the 47-year-old had to borrow a boat to carry out his pollution-busting mission - picking up 20,000 pieces of waste in a 100 metre stretch.

He said: "It's amazing news. Now we can really get out on the rivers and start making a positive impact on the wildlife. We're so grateful to all at the River Nene Regional Park for reaching out to me. Watch this space, we have so many river clean-ups to come this year."

With the funds from the crowdfunder Mr Urquhart bought a roof rack to transport the kayak and a pair of wellies.

He said: "I’ll be buying some pickers, child and adult [size], which will be donated to the Kettering Wombles' group equipment, so we’ll have a pool of permanent kit, that we can loan out especially for big group picks.

"A huge heartfelt thankyou to all involved, feel so lucky that everyone has pulled together, to protect everything that is good about Kettering."

River Nene Regional Park leads on a range of projects related to environmental restoration, amenity improvements and awareness raising across the entire Nene Valley from Daventry to Peterborough, taking in the towns of Corby, Kettering and Wellingborough and the rural areas in between.

Corinne Muir, river project lead for the Ise partnership for the River Nene Regional Park, added: "When we saw Nick’s appeal online, we really wanted to help him with the amazing clean-up work that he does in the River Ise catchment, and we were glad to be able to gift him a kayak.

"The River Ise Partnership is a new initiative of River Nene Regional Park, we look forward to working with many more volunteers and partners to promote and improve the Ise Valley."