The First Wear Riverfest: A Great Success
The first Wear Riverfest, hosted by the Wear Rivers Trust, was held 17 August 2023 at Bishop Auckland Rugby Club. It was a fun day well supported by a range of partners, with the Bishop Auckland Town Council mayor and deputy mayor in attendance.
The aim of the day was to introduce children and adults to the River, provide an insight as to how its wildlife is monitored and conserved, and to encourage people to get involved.
BBC Look North attended and filmed a Riverfly monitoring demonstration, with WRT’s Paul Atkinson and Mick Donkin explaining the importance of monitoring water fly life as the basis of river biodiversity, the food chain and a key indicator of river health. The feature, which was broadcast that evening, also featured, by complete coincidence, a wild swimmer, Rebecca Borril.
Other activities included a fly fishing demonstration by Bishop Auckland Angling Club, with WRT providing electrofishing and fish identification, willow weaving, Invasives Species walk and identification and a range of Education activities involving plastics , scavenger hunt and stone pledge.
There were crafts from Lifwynn Wood and information stalls from East Durham College (Houghall Agricultural College), Environment Agency, Angling Trust, Recoup, Durham School and WRT. An appliance and crew from Bishop Auckland Community Fire Station attended to explain about water safety. There was even an opportunity to try your hand at archery.
Terry Featherstone, WRT Trustee, gave a talk on how he and his wife Tracy planted 20,000 trees on their farm with the support of the Forestry Commission, to create the Coundon Community Woodland.
Anne Hitch from Recoup gave a talk and some guidance about the importance of properly segregating recyclable and non-recyclable waste.
The river faces serious challenges from historical pollution, the Wear was industrialised from Source to Sea, and from modern pollution sources arising from agriculture, sewage, roads, plastic pollution and fly tipping. That said, the Wear and its tributary river systems including the nearby River Gaunless are recovering, with better water quality supporting more numerous and diverse native plants animals and insects.
The more people that understand the river, the more they will value the benefits it brings to those who live around the river, visit it and perhaps get actively involved in looking after the river, the wider environment and the planet.
WRT would like to thank the partner and supporting organisations who made the event possible.
BBC Look North
Bishop Auckland Angling Club
Bishop Auckland RFC
Bishop Auckland Town Council
Coundon Community Woodland
Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service
Durham Wildlife Trust