22 April 2024

Great Britain’s Paracanoe team have been busy collecting rubbish from a river in the build-up to Paddle UK’s Big Paddle Cleanup. 

Paralympic medallists Charlotte Henshaw, Robert Oliver, Emma Wiggs, Stuart Wood and Laura Sugar were among those to brave the bad weather on the water and bankside to help with the cleanup operation. 

They were joined by fellow Paracanoe paddlers Jonathan Young, Jack Eyers, Hope Gordon and Jon Tarrant as they filled five huge sacks with junk from the River Trent, near to their training base at the National Watersports Centre in Nottingham. 

Henshaw, the reigning Paralympic champion in the women’s KL2, said the experience was an “eyeopener”. 

“I found a lot of stray dog balls and lots of plastic which is never good,” said Henshaw. 

“Once you get right in there’s plastic rubbish lurking (behind the vegetation). 

Great Britain Paracanoe team cleanup river

Oliver, a men’s KL3 bronze medallist at Tokyo 2020, added: «We’re all performance athletes. 

“We want to look after the waterways, pick up all the plastic, baby wipes, things like that. 

“We filled four or five bags of litter in about an hour and just shows what this is doing to the wildlife. 

“We need to get on top of it. 

“We definitely don’t do enough, we’re over there on the lake, sometimes we’re sheltered from what it’s really like here in the natural environment. 

“People need to take their litter home with them. 

“If you see it, pick it up, put it in the nearest bin.” 

This year's Big Paddle Cleanup will run from May 25 to June 9, giving people the chance to clear the waterways of junk and plastic pollution. 

More than 2,600 paddlers participated last year, collecting about 1,800 huge sacks containing 6,767 plastic bottles, 2,739 glass bottles, 4,403 cans and 7,682 food packaging items.

Click here for more information on the Big Paddle Cleanup

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