A look back on 2017 – an amazing year!


A very Happy New Year to everyone! As the new year starts, this is a look back on 2017, which has been an amazing year for the Friends of Weston Shore.

Our first event of the year was a spring clean and litter pick on the shore with friends from Surfers Against Sewage. They were an enthusiastic bunch and we quickly cleared up a lot of rubbish. It was a sunny day and cleaning up the beach after the winter months was enjoyable fun.

During April 2017, the Friends of Weston Shore were honoured to be the recipients of the Southampton City Care for the Environment Award at the St George’s Day Community Awards held at Solent University.  To receive such kind recognition was a wonderful surprise for the group and the award was presented to the group by well known Southampton celebrity Lawrie McMenemy MBE and the Worshipful the Mayor of Southampton, Councillor Catherine McEwing.

We held our own spring clean litter pick on the shore in May and were joined by Bruce Larner, a volunteer who has helped several groups in the Southampton area.

We are regularly contacted by companies and organisations who want to help with our aim of making sure Weston Shore is as clean as possible and in June, new friends from the Royal Bank of Scotland did a great job of picking up lots of litter.  They were an energetic group and we are grateful for all their hard work.

In August, we were delighted to help with a special event on the shore, the Sea Life Discovery Day organised by Owain Masters from the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust.  Capturing Our Coast also participated in the full day event, looking at the plants and animals to be found on the shore. It was a wonderful day, helped with some lovely summer sunshine in the afternoon and thoroughly enjoyable.  We have a short vlog about the day, which you can watch here:

 

In September, we joined forces with the Marine Conservation Society as part of their Great British Beach Clean. This is a regular event run by the society with the help of volunteers, in which they carry out a survey of the litter to be found on the shore. We were again, as we often are, helped by a day of sunshine and it was great to see so many people getting involved. The survey is important in understanding what, exactly, ends up on our shores and has helped highlight the dangers of plastic debris.

The next event, in what was a very busy year for us, was another beach clean up on the shore – the biggest one ever!  This was part of the Autumn Beach Clean campaign from Surfers Against Sewage. Volunteers from Southampton Greenpeace, Solent Students’ Union and the Marine Conservation Society from the University of Southampton also took part. In total, we estimate around seventy people were involved and a huge amount of rubbish was cleared up. Special thanks to Mairin Williams from Surfers Against Sewage for all her hard work in organising the event.

Last year, 2017, has been a very busy one for the group and special thanks to all our volunteers for the invaluable work they do.  Being a volunteer is not only satisfying, its also great fun. As well as our core aim of trying to keep the shore as clean as possible, we are also learning more about the precious wildlife on the shore.

We hope more that more people can join us as we look forward to 2018! We are hoping for another action packed year and continuing to learn more about the shore and the wildlife that lives there. If you would like to get involved, please contact us at westonshore@gmail.com.

 

Friends of Weston Shore – a brief history


By Adam Manning, Sunday 29th June 2014

As a boy growing up in Southampton my family were frequent visitors to Weston Shore and so I grew up with a love for the place. There were long walks along the beautiful beach with so much to explore.

Sadly the area had a bad reputation locally. Every now and then cars would be left on the shore and set on fire and there was lots of litter and rubbish everywhere. It was one of the few areas in Southampton where people could easily go to the seaside yet at the same time it seemed to be neglected and thought of with a certain disdain. During the nineties environmental issues became more prominent and I thought a good practical way to get involved would be to clear up litter on the shore.

Fortunately Southampton City Council were happy to help and as a first attempt we decided to concentrate on the stream that crosses Weston Shore on the way towards Weston Sailing Club. So, one day in August 1996 my brother Lawrence and I walked to the stream with some bags for the rubbish. We worked all day in the bright summer sunshine and by the end had a large number of bin bags full of litter and rubbish to show for our troubles. The Council duly arrived at the appointed time to take it away and it was wonderful to look round afterwards and see the area looking pristine and clean.

That was the start and every year for around the next decade or so we held a clean up on the beach with the help of the Council. At first we only had the bags to put the rubbish in but eventually we were able to borrow litter pickers which made the work a lot easier. The shore was very dirty when we started with litter and rubbish of all sorts strewn everywhere. There was always an endless supply of plastic straws, drink cans and cartons, chocolate bar wrappers and the plastic bindings that keep packs of four or six cans of drink together. For some reason if you found a shoe or a sock, it was almost always only one of a pair which left the puzzling conclusion that someone had left the shore with only one sock or shoe.

Over the years the litter picks became steadily larger and it was inspiring to find so many people wanting to get involved.  We soon built up a core of regulars who came along every time. During the late 2000s the Council suggested that we should form into a “Friends” group as this would enable us to apply for funding and branch out into other activities to help Weston Shore. In 2009 Weston Shore was given the prestigious Green Flag award in recognition of its improving condition and that year the Friends of Weston Shore group was formally constituted.

Our annual litter pick has grown into our biggest event each year and last year was our most well attended of all, with sixty participants. As well as the public clean up in August, we hold smaller events as a group throughout the year and also work with other organisations who want to come down and lend a hand, including the Marine Conservation Society.

The focus of our efforts is still very much on working to keep the shore clear of litter but we have also run other events including a book reading, walks to enjoy the area and pirate themed fun days for families. We are always looking for new ideas for the shore and so if you have any please let us know.

The inter-tidal area at Weston Shore is a Site of Special Scientific Interest due to its value as a habitat for wading birds. Weston Shore is home to a large range of plant and animal life from the bladder wrack and gutweed on the tide line, the sea campion and the meadow brown butterfly in the grasslands to the egrets and curlew that fish there. It’s a wonderful, rich habitat for nature and we are passionate about protecting and celebrating this resource we have right on our doorstep.

We are very grateful for all the help we get from Southampton City Council and Groundwork Solent with our efforts for Weston Shore.

We are often told by visitors to Weston Shore how much cleaner the shore is now compared to years gone by and this is something we are keen to continue and improve upon. If you want to learn more about the Friends of Weston Shore please have a look at our website at https://westonshore.wordpress.com, find us on Facebook or follow us on twitter at @WestonShore. The more help we have the more we can achieve so please get in touch!