Graffham and Duncton children revitalise the Western Rother

Peggy Whiting,  volunteer, helping some of the children plant the trees.  CONTRIBUTED PICTURE
Peggy Whiting, volunteer, helping some of the children plant the trees. CONTRIBUTED PICTURE
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CHILDREN from Graffham Infant and Duncton Junior Schools are breathing life back into a failing river by helping to plant trees.

Alongside the angling club, the school has helped plant 16 Black Poplar trees as their part of a £100,000 project to enhance the Western Rother at Shopham Bridge, near Petworth.

The project which is being led by the Arun & Rother Rivers Trust (ARRT), working closely with the Wild Trout Trust and the Petworth and Bognor Angling Club, is creating a better environment for fish living in the river.

It will enhance the habitat available for a wide range of wildlife, from birds and butterflies to newts and wetland plants.

Pupils from year 6 took part in the tree planting, helped by members of Petworth and Bognor Angling Club, ARRT project officer, Ses Wright, and volunteers. The children worked hard planting trees around a newly constructed fish refuge which will help support and protect the soft sandy riverbanks from erosion and provide cover for the fish from predators.

Graffham Infant and Duncton CE Junior School headteacher, Helen Martin said: “These children have spent time learning along the Western Rother on field work so this was an excellent opportunity for them to gather and share knowledge about a river they already know well. They brought enthusiasm and energy to their important task of planting the Black Poplars.”

Sir Sebastian Anstruther, chairman of the trust, added: “We have much to do to protect and improve our rivers, but by working together I am convinced even the most complex issues can be addressed.

“It is wonderful to see children playing their part in this project to breathe life back into the river and we hope this helps to give them an appreciation and understanding of their environment.”

The trust received government funding in 2012 to enhance the Western Rother around Shopham Bridge. Work has so far included the construction of a 60 metre long stone and gravel riffle and the creation of a shallow water refuge where fish can escape forceful river flows after heavy rainfall.