The Friends of Weston Shore have now been a constituted group for five years and 2014 has been our busiest yet! During January, the shore suffered due to some very serious storms. Part of the coastal wall at the Conker Field was smashed in by the tide and the storm and wind washed up a lot of rubbish onto the shore. By Southampton Sailing Club even more of the grass edge collapsed onto the shore below. Not a great start to the year!
In January we were awarded the princely sum of £1,062 from Southampton City Council under the Community Chest scheme and this is being used to pay for the main expenditure of the group including our insurance policy and litter picking equipment. We started the year as we meant to go on in February with a beach clean up with friends from the University of Southampton’s group for the Marine Conservation Society. The skies looked treacherous as we began but it stayed dry long enough for us to get lots cleared up until the storm clouds darkened and the hail started flying horizontally at us, which lead to a hasty conclusion to our litter pick!
In April, the Friends of Weston Shore assisted with a large litter pick on the shore run by the national Marine Conservation Society in conjunction with Marks and Spencer plc. Again, the elements tried to interfere but we stuck at it and by the end a large amount of rubbish had been cleared up. We organized our own spring clean up in May on a beautiful, sunny Saturday morning and got to see one of the beautiful egrets that occasionally visit the shore. During the spring, representatives from Friends of Weston Shore attended at the Southampton Friends’ Forum, a collective meeting of similar groups in the Southampton area. As spring gave way to summer we had our annual walk along the shore. We started at Southampton Sailing Club and were joined by a friend from the Southampton Old Cemetery group. The shore was busy as the Rowing Club were having a regatta on the shore. We also bumped into our friend Richard who was out on his regular patrol clearing up the shore. We ended up walking all the way up to Netley Abbey and even had a look round the Netley carnival which was on that day.
In July on a really sunny day we assisted HSBC Bank with their community responsibility programme. A large number of staff from the bank descended on the shore to clean it up and we had a presence as well at the litter pick. It was great to see so many people getting involved and they were a wonderfully enthusiastic team. The group has been keen to learn more about the wildlife on Weston Shore, both plants and animals, and we were lucky enough to meet up with Phil Budd from the Southampton Natural History Society. He meet us at the shore and after a chat about wildlife surveys, took us on a tour of a stretch of the shore. Very quickly it became clear to us that there was so much to see and learn, even in a short walk. Phil was kind enough to spend some time with us and it was a really enjoyable session. Something we are hoping to pick up on again in 2015!
In August we of course had our biggest event, our annual Big Beach Clean. At first we were really concerned about the rain moving in but thankfully it brightened up to a beautiful summer Sunday and was a very well attended event. The Group now has a lot of experience in running this event which bodes well for further growth. Shortly after the big beach clean, Virginia gave a talk about the Friends of Weston Shore at Portswood Library which was very much appreciated by us in helping to raise awareness of the group. In November we followed up our year of non stop litter picking with our final autumnal one, and as always at that time of year managed to find some firework debris discarded on the shore. As said at the start, this has been our busiest year yet and looking back it’s interesting to see that we played an important role in assisting other groups in clearing up the beach. We’re looking forward to carrying on with our core activity of keeping the beach as clean as possible and in addition to further our understanding and appreciation of the beautiful natural riches to be found there. Please get in touch if you would like to join in the fun! Our email is firstname.lastname@example.org.