Wharfe Walkers Patrick Godden and Jack Hanson returned to Ilkley on Thursday having walked from the source of the River Wharfe in North Yorkshire to London to raise awareness and funds for Clean River Campaigns.
Along the way, they have collected hundreds of kilos of litter from river banks and raised thousands of pounds to fund independent testing of the Wharfe at Ilkley - the first river in Britain to be given Bathing Water Status. ‘Many families paddle, play and swim there,’ Patrick says, ‘But like most rivers in the UK, it is heavily polluted.’
‘The Wharfe isn’t the only UK river with these issues,’ Jack said. ‘We wanted to raise awareness across the country, so we walked to London via rivers like the Ouse, Trent and Thames, and lakes and reservoirs like Rutland Water, collecting rubbish as we went.’
‘The amount we collected was staggering,’ Patrick added ‘and it was a hard slog at times but our spirits were always lifted by the warmth and generosity of the people we met along the way, like the café owners in East Yorkshire who set us up for the day with a free breakfast and the pub customers in Lincolnshire who had a whip-round for us.’
Their journey ended at the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday (26 May), where they presented an open letter to the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, Rebecca Pow, urging the government to take action to address the issues their walk has highlighted.
The letter ended: “Our walk was an effort, as two self-funded 27 year-olds, to take action and inspire others to do their bit for the country that we love and that has given us so much. We have collected over 300 kilos of litter in less than two weeks, walked 265 miles, and raised £4,000 (so far) for independent testing of the Wharfe. One of us is a global strategic alliances manager for a major tech company and the other is a full-time student in his final year of study, proving that anyone can make a difference with enough will, determination… and blister plasters.
“We are proud of what we have achieved but know that to markedly accelerate the pace of change we need ministers like yourselves to do as we have done; to take risks, to be brave and inspire others to pass crucial legislation that will bring Britain to a leadership position on the world stage. It’s time to walk the walk."
Patrick and Jack's Just Giving page is: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/wharfe-walkers