Campaign to Clean the Leen

Clean the Leen campaign
Clean the Leen campaign

A teacher from Bestwood Village sickened by the quantity of rubbish dumped into a local river has launched her own campaign to Clean the Leen.

Georgina Harris’s campaign saw the determined nature-lover roll up her sleeves - and her trouser-legs - and wade into the water herself, to fish out several shopping trolleys worth of discarded garbage.

Clean the Leen campaign

Clean the Leen campaign

The clean-up on July 23 was captured on film by Georgina’s talented ex-pupil, 16 year-old photographer Sorrell Lyall.

She said: “We started by the Riverside in Bulwell, to remove as much rubbish as we could and to photograph not only the mess but the beauty and the variety of the nature to be found amidst the pollution.”

In only a couple of hours, Georgina pulled out six floor lamps, two shopping trolleys, a fire extinguisher, a swimming pool ‘noodle’ float, an adult’s coat, underpants, socks, a scarf, rubber gloves, a bucket, a brand new metal mixing bowl, a bike lock, a mobile phone and an inner tube - as well as the usual complement of beer bottles and plastic bags.

Georgina, 45, became ‘increasingly sad and frustrated’ by the state of the river as she cycled to work in Beeston.

Clean the Leen campaign

Clean the Leen campaign

She said: “Whilst the Leen was bedecked with beautiful wild flowers, the river strewn with lush river weeds and ducklings and cygnets paddled behind their parents, too much of the waterway was cluttered and blockaded with litter.

“Each day brought a new low in what humans thought fit to throw in there; if not the sheer quantity of detritus, then the alarming nature of it. Plastic bottles and bags and polystyrene seem to be a tragic ‘given’, but it was a giant jerry can with a toxic waste emblem on the side that ultimately galvanised me into action.”

Georgina has taught English for 17 years and spent the last year living in an off-grid house in Mexico where she survived by collecting rain water and using solar panels.

Sorrell’s pictures are featured on Georgina’s blog Clean the Leen, which besides the junk hauled out of the Leen also showcases the extraordinary array of wildlife, including Dippers and Grey Wagtails, to be found along the river’s banks.

Clean the Leen campaign

Clean the Leen campaign

The blog also recounts Georgina’s efforts to contact the authorities before she decided enough was enough.

She said: “I am just a person who is sick and tired of how scruffy and disrespectful people are being. The idea for waiting for organisations is not for me!

“My dad, years ago, once pointed to the canal in Langley Mill and recounted how he used to go swimming in it as child, when he could see the plants at the bottom, decades ago. We stood there, looking at the impenetrable brown that it now was.

“I couldn’t imagine how it was ever once transparent.

“But the Leen is, and I really don’t want that to change. No-one should. And yet too many people are treating it with absolute contempt.”

The duo plan to go back to the Leen once every two months - and will return for another river-clean-up day on Sunday 27 September.