Take us to the river: QE Together open up a new front in their war on litter

Take us to the river: QE Together open up a new front in their war on litter

Sixth-formers from QE and Queen Elizabeth’s Girls’ School lent their support to efforts to clean up the River Brent in their battle against the scourge of litter.

The litter pick in Dollis Valley Park was the latest activity for QE Together – a Sixth Form partnership between the two Barnet schools formed early in 2022 that has a focus on projects to support the local community. As well as litter picks, QE Together has undertaken a primary school assembly and a concert for nursing home residents.

For this activity, they first worked in small teams comprising pupils from both schools in various areas of the park, before converging on Dollis Brook, a tributary of the Brent, where they laboured with Ben Morris, founder of CURB (Clean Up the River Brent), to clean up the waterway.

Crispin Bonham-Carter, Assistant Head (Pupil Involvement), said: “I congratulate all the students for working hard and persevering to complete what was, at times, an unpleasant task.

“We were both exhilarated and a little depressed at how much rubbish the QE Together team pulled out of a tiny section of the Dollis Brook. Thanks also to Ben from CURB for the inspiration!”

The afternoon began with the groups of three or four students amassing litter such as plastic bags snagged in brambles and bottles buried in the earth. They used bags, gloves and litter-pickers provided by the venture’s sponsors, Signature Care Homes.

Omar Siddick, of Year 12, said: “We were struck by the sheer amount of commercial packaging we found littering the grass, hedges and riverbank. Cans of beer and drink were among the most frequent findings, but we uncovered even more obscure items, such as derelict tents and car batteries.”

With stage 1 of the day complete, and nine or ten bin bags duly tied up and piled together, the whole Sixth Form team came together to tackle the brook.

Seyi Esan, also of Year 12, said: “With the help of Mr Morris, we were able to recover a host of surprising items from the riverbed, such as: a heater; two big trolleys; one small trolley, a plastic tricycle and a bike.

“Retrieving these (and more) items seemed easy, but pulling them up the steep riverbank proved more difficult than anticipated,” Seyi said, adding that teamwork was the key to completing the job successfully.

At the end of the day, everything collected was placed next to the public bin in the park, ready for the municipal waste collectors.

It had been, Omar concluded, “a productive and enriching exercise”, both because of the public service performed in collecting the litter and because it provided the QE boys with a welcome opportunity to collaborate with the girls.