My week

Chris Coode, river programmes manager, Thames21

Chris Coode
Chris Coode

Monday: An unusual start to the week as I load up the van with pond dipping nets and head to north London. We're off to assess two streams as sites for our work and to catch stickleback for a new project - Sticklebacks in Schools. The participating schools in east London will nurture the fish before releasing them into the Lea River, which originates in the Chiltern Hills near Luton and runs south-east through Essex to join the Thames.

The streams turn out to be very different: one is muddy and difficult to access down steep banks scattered with giant hogweed. There are no stickleback. Fortunately, the other stream has them in abundance.

Tuesday: Email catch-up. With such a range of projects spread over a wide geographical area and delivered by a team of staff working from home or on site, it really is the only way to keep nudging projects along to their deadlines. I manage to get the final planning completed for our volunteer clean-up event on the Thames foreshore on Thursday. I hope we'll have a good turnout.

Wednesday: I attend a meeting with various partner organisations in Lewisham. We're planning a week of volunteer action to improve the Ravensbourne River catchment, which runs through the London boroughs of Bromley, Lewisham and Greenwich. Thankfully, it seems that between us we will have enough waders for all the volunteers we are expecting.

Thursday: It's a bright and sunny day for our clean-up on the Thames in central London. The volunteers who have come along to our event are working hard and enjoying themselves as we clear up litter. This is one of more than 100 such clean-ups we do every year throughout London. Few people realise how different the view of London is from the foreshore.

London's history is also revealed beneath our feet when one of the volunteers finds a well-preserved clay pipe bowl shaped like an acorn in its cup. The only treasure I find is a set of false teeth. We manage to remove a substantial amount of litter - plastics and metal - thus improving this stretch of the river dramatically before the tide starts coming in.

Friday: I'm making the most of our flexible working policy today. I dash out a few emails and then head off to school to pick up my son. It's Fun Friday at school today and a community sport organisation has set up a bouncy castle in the playground. I like this idea. It might do everyone some good to knock off early on a Friday and have a bounce around. I'll suggest it at the next management team meeting.

Thames21 is the leading charity for London's waterways

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