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Schoolkid mudlarks tidy up the Thames

PUBLISHED: 19:19 17 September 2008 | UPDATED: 13:37 05 October 2010

Kids on the Thames foreshore and (inset) TV vet Emma helping out

Kids on the Thames foreshore and (inset) TV vet Emma helping out

SCHOOLKIDS have been helping to clean-up the banks of Old Father Thames today. The mudlarks’ were busy along the north foreshore in East London picking up rubbish to help save wildlife from the dangers of plastic shopping bags discarded in the river. They were joined by TV vet Emma Milne at one of the most littered parts of the tidal flow, the sharp U-bend that snakes round the Isle of Dogs

Mike Brooke

SCHOOLKIDS have been helping to clean up the banks of Old Father Thames today (Wednesday).

The mudlarks’ were busy along the north foreshore in East London picking up rubbish to help save wildlife from the dangers of plastic shopping bags discarded in the river.

They were joined by TV vet Emma Milne who lent a hand at one of the most littered parts of the tidal flow, the sharp U-bend that snakes round the Isle of Dogs.

“It is vital that we understand the damage plastic bags can cause wildlife,” said Emma, from the popular BBC show Vets in Practice.

“So many youngsters are interested in protecting the environment, which gives us all hope for the future.”

More than 60 youngsters from two East London schools were invited by the International Fund for Animal Welfare and the Thames 21 environment charity to help with today’s clean-up.

It was part of the animal welfare organisation’s campaign leading up to next month’s Animal Action Week which this year is raising awareness of the threats plastic bags pose to marine life and seabirds.

It is the largest animal welfare event of its kind in the world, with schoolchildren in 12 countries around the globe taking part every year including 100,000 in Britain alone.

One of the schools at today’s operation, George Green’s Secondary in Cubitt Town, on the Isle of Dogs itself, is right next to the river bend where thousands of plastic bags end up at low tide.

Graham Goodsir, who chairs the school’s Eco committee, said: “Our school is so close to the spot where the rubbish ends up, so for us plastic pollution in the Thames is a local problem and we were keen to improve our area.”

The other school taking part was Abbey Wood Secondary, just the other side of the river.

The real danger from the plastic bags, ecologists point out, is at high tide when the current carries them from the foreshore out to the estuary and the North Sea.

Marine life such as turtles can mistake the floating plastic for edible jelly fish and choke to death.

The clean up’ event is running in 12 countries where the Animal Welfare Fund operates, including Germany, Canada, the USA, Russia, South Africa and Australia. Its aim is to educate six million children worldwide about the importance of the marine environment.

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Check out their website:

www.ifaw.org

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