Thanks to my kind donors, I have raised £625 in sponsorship for Schoolreaders, which will be matched by my company.
The charity have also been promised matched funding, so my grand total will be £2,500.
If you are able to add a little, it would be hugely appreciated. You £5 would be magnified into £20. The link to my Justgiving page can be found here.
The last weeks of SchoolReaders’ Race for Reading have been tough for me. Back from holiday and the fresh winds of west Wales, I came into contact with numerous people testing Covid + and went down with fatigue, possibly fending off the virus. I was persuaded to take things slowly and do a little at a time but I have walked a total of 92 miles, collecting sea plastic and litter.
It’s an honour to be an author supporter of Schoolreaders who have organised this fantastic marathon. So many have taken part in it that the total number of miles covered nearly 24,000 miles.
Here is my progress since my last post:
Day 27 – May 14th 2022 – 1.8km – I collect Easter bunnies encased in plastic lying discarded along the Solent Way.
Day 28 – May 15th – 2.22km – I extract a cheerful orange case from the mudflats. It once held sunglasses.
Day 30 – May 16th – 1 km – cleaning up after a tramp who had been sniffing air freshner in the bluebell woods.
Day 31 – May 20th – I km – finding MacDonald’s packing on Tanner’s Lane Beach.
Day 32 – May 24th – 2.2km – finding builder’s gloves chucked into the ditch running alongside the river
Day 33 – May 26th – 1 km – no litter! as I take the footpath up the hill to the pub
Day 34 – May 27th – 0.8km – but spend ages excavating elderly bottles from newly dug drain that flows into the river
Day 35 – May 28th – 3km – along the coast with a friend collecting broken glass and plastic, a clothes peg and a slip-on shoe.
Day 36 – June 7th – 2km – along a lane by the river collecting driver’s litter.
Day 37 – June 12th – 1km – along country lanes and into a village.
Day 38 – June 15th – 1.6km – along the Solent Way collecting a bucketful of fast food containers and empty packets of cigarettes.
Day 39 – June 16th – 2.2km walking along the Solent foreshore collecting old PVC rope and muddy plastic bags. I find a pot shard in a dyke that could be rubbish from long ago.
Day 40 – June 18th – 3.km found a huge PVC rope whilst walking along the Solent and lugged it home with a bucket of flostam.
As you can see, I use an old feed bucket to collect litter but these bags made out of old sails can take broken glass and cope well in the wind. I was kindly given one by Litter Pickers of the New Forest to keep me going.
We all need to keep collecting litter and sea plastic. You can hear news for the oceans here:
U is for Unbelievable how much litter there is in Britain
Unless each one of us do something useful, we’ll be burrowing through unbearable rubbish. I embark on an uplifting walk of about 12.5kms, up and down the river, collecting useless plastic before it is washed into the unforgiving sea.
I walk vigilantly along the tideline, through the sand dunes, along the verdant estuary where flotsam gathers, and into town finding very small pieces as I cover 6.5kms.
Day 23 –
W is for Why Worry?
Why use a dog poo bag if you are going to leave it in the countryside? It is worrying. They do not decompose and have been known to kill animals attracted to grain in the dog poo. Foals have died. A vet found 20 dog poo bags in the stomach of a deer.
I wander through tide wrack finding a number of dog poo bags washed up by the sea. How many kill dolphins? I return via the windswept sand dunes crossing an ancient midden or rubbish dump. 4 km + 9km = 13km walked today.
W is for Waterhaul – I use this old feed bucket for collecting litter but it is better to take a bag when it’s windy. You need a strong one that can take broken glass. Waterhaul are making beach clean bags out of old sails and are up-cyling amazing things out of discarded fishing net. You can find their website here.
X is for sea Xs – I find a huge number along the coast – the result of torn fishing net being shredded and discarded at sea. It is too costly to mend or dispose of them on land. Theses strands of HDPE (high-density polyethylene) are known as sea-kisses when an X is formed by the knot. Please collect any and report your findings to Marine Management.
I stop for a rest to look back on what’s been achieved, appreciating all the encouragement I’ve been given.
Rebecca Holmes left a message saying: “only 3.5km” only this only that. NO, it’s not only. It’s brilliant, every single step counts.
Liz Downs Wow. This is the first I’ve heard of this. What an achievement
Stephen Green Such a worthwhile cause, I commend you Sophie well done, I don’t know where you get the energy from.
Y is for Yucky
Are young people to blame or drivers? If you take a lane running alongside your local river, you soon notice that most roadside litter is made up of the bright packaging of things that are bad for people: tobacco, sweets, over flavoured snacks, drugs, sugary carbonated drinks and alcohol. Somehow the caffeine fails to give people the energy to take their rubbish to a bin.
I took part in Keep Britain Tidy’s Great British Spring Clean when we counted cans collected and found twice as many alcohol containers as soft drinks. The highways of Britain are lined with tins and bottles that have been in people’s mouths. What are the consequences?
I walk 1.3km along our tidal river within the National Park, collecting a couple of large bottles that would have been hazardous if flung from a vehicle. These are added to my glass recycling bin, which has become embarrassingly full. I have a container of old oil I do not know how to dispose of. There are two 25 litre drums of chemicals, a car bumper and a metal table lurking in the estuary. I’ve reported them to the Council twice but nothing has been done.
I feel discouraged but am delighted to announce that a colleague from Litter Pickers of The New Forest, renown for covering a huge distance, has signed up for the Race for Reading 2022 and will be picking up the baton. Another volunteer promises to help me extract the fly-tipping and take it to the dump.
Z is for Zonked. I’m getting tired but zoom along the shore zealously collecting muddy rubbish and tiny pieces of litter covering 4.1km.
Z is for Zero plastic waste. I sign up for The Big Plastic Count. We have to stop producing so much single use plastic. I’m told that a truckload of rubbish enters the sea every second of everyday. I will continue to pick pieces up from the coast but we have to stop it getting into the sea.
I log my fitness to find I have covered over 78 miles on the Race for Reading 2022. I’ve only collected one wheely bin of litter, a tub of glass bottles and another of tin cans but the coast is clear.
Thanks to my generous sponsors, I’ve raised £445 for School Readers so far. My company will double any money I can raise in sponsorship, so any donations given to School Readers via my Justgiving page will be doubled.
Schoolreaders is a children’s literacy charity which provides volunteers to partner primary schools nationwide to listen to children read. Even before Covid 19, 1 in 4 children left primary school unable to read properly1. Currently, our dedicated volunteers support over 7,000 children every week with one-to-one reading support, boosting their reading ability, fluency, comprehension and enjoyment.
Why Schoolreaders is needed:
Inequalities in literacy levels have widened since the pandemic. 5-7 year old disadvantaged pupils are 7 months behind non-disadvantaged peers2
One in seven adults (7 million people) have poor literacy and are unable to fill in a job application form, read a medicine label or understand written instructions. This can affect their mental health, contribute to unemployment, homelessness and crime – 48% of UK prisoners have reading ages of 11 or under.3
Illiteracy costs the UK economy nearly £40 billion every year.4
More than 10% of primary schools in England have registered with Schoolreaders to help their pupils catch up on vital reading skills.
As you can see on my earlier posts, I’ve been using the alphabet as a theme.
N is for Nothing changes unless we take action
Day 14 – Another nice walk along the estuary into the small town of Newport collecting numerous wrappers and a noxious nappy dropped by numbskulls.
I walk another 3km later, cleaning the high tide line along the beach finding, amongst the rope and fishing line, a spoon, a sock and five poo bags. Why dog owners use tennis balls is a mystery. They contain lead and can choke large dogs.
O is for Obviously old things get outdated or ousted and litter becomes an ordinary occurrence rather than an outrage.
Day 15 – I only cover 2 kms following the coastal path to a lifeboat station but collect three old socks, a pair of knickers and half a bucket of litter. I later search the tide line for flotsam and mainly find dog poo bags and obsolete fishing line while covering another 3.5kms.
P is for Plastic –
Day 16 – I plod past a harbour collecting picnic litter, pondering on the fact I’ve probably covered 2 kms. Later I pace the tide line for 3.7kms returning with a heavy bucketful of party rubbish: plastic packaging, plastic bottles, plastic cutlery, plastic cups, plastic straws and 6-pack plastic that litters the coast. I find plenty of plastic cotton bud stalks, panty liners and packets of condoms along the shore – an indication of sewage entering the sea. PVC rope and polystyrene discarded by the fishing industry is common.
Patience is needed. PPE, party poppers, plasters and ear plugs fill me with fury. I prefer picking up paddles, pegs, paintbrushes, pens and pencils since there’s a possibility they were simply lost. There’s a litter-picking prize for finding pairs of pants.
Day 17 –
Q is for quayside
but as that is now clean, I walk up the estuary into a quaint market town. It’s quiet but I find a lot of wrappers, covering 3.9kms as I collect a bucketful of litter. The skate park posed quite a challenge. The drains there wash straight into the estuary.
After lunch, I set out across the sand dunes finding a quantity of drink cans and glass bottles left by camp fires. The 20 bottles are heavy to lug back.
I’ve learnt a lot since collecting litter. You see what’s happening from the underside of society. Alcohol containers are often discarded from high vehicles , rural drug taking is rife and fishing vessels are shredding nets at sea. The arterial roads of Britain are strewn with rat-infested litter loaded with human DNA. It’s surprising we are not threatened by a more serious pandemic.
Day 18 –
R is for re-cycling on the Race for Reading
I have been putting bottles or clean drink cans in the recycling bins but most coastal plastic needs to go to landfill. I scan the mudflats for ancient litter including heinous broken glass covering about 2.5km.
Day 19 –
S is for Sunshine
Silvery skies lift my spirit as I searchthe seashore for seven kilometers without seeing much flotsam. We seem to be making progress. If people see no rubbish they are less likely to drop litter.
Day 20 –
T is for tidying
I retrace my tracks traversing three kilometers to town coming across little litter. Two more kilometers with the dog and I’m tired but happy. Another two kilometers in the evening take us to a running total of 55 miles covered litter-picking so far. Logging my progress with the Race for Reading has been motivational.
I’m walking along the coast on a sponsored beach-clean, using the alphabet as my theme.
The aim is to raise funds for the charity Schoolreaders who aim to ensure every child in the UK can read fluently by the age of eleven. Shockingly, 25% fall behind. It jeopardizes their future.
Day 7 – H is Hard work – Ihead out along hedgerows just above the high tide’s reach to harvest horrific litter that could wash into the sea. I cover 2.1km and only collect 35 pieces but haul three discarded containers of chemicals that were chucked into the river.
Day 8 – I is for I have to do something. Imagine our coastlines covered in rubbish. It’s impossible to ignore wanton trash. I’ve found three intact fluorescent light bulbs washed up before now.
We go down to the foreshore to see what recent storms have brought in. When I first moved to the Solent eighteen years ago it was multi-coloured with bottle tops. Volunteers have slowly cleared it but the sea coughs up unwanted plastic on every tide. As we collect flotsam, a £20 note floats up to us!
Day 9 – J is for Just pick it up –
I cross a causeway over a tidal river where drivers obviously chuck rubbish while waiting for the level-crossing to open on the far side. Having a litter-picker makes the job easier and safer. I collect a bagful and continue into town, putting litter straight into council bins. Despite plenty of these, I find a significant amount of cellophane on the quay about to be blown into the harbour. I cover 3.5km collecting litter over 90 minutes.
Day 10 – K is for keep fit – and keep going. We arrive in Pembrokeshire for a family holiday. I’m tired after the journey but walk about two miles in 90 minutes, collecting a carrier bag full of coastal litter.
Day 11 – L is for Litter – loitering in the tide wrack of Wales, but I’m joined by friends from The Dog House which is fun. We walk 5 kms along a sandy beach where the smallest dog is rather good at finding litter.
Day 12 – M is for mission to rid the cost of plastic pollution. I walk up an estuary for only 2kms but collect a bucketful of PVC rope and plastic wrappers. I repeat the same distance at low tide when the landscape looks quite different.
Would you like to join the challenge? It’s not too late.
Every pound raised in sponsorship makes a difference and provides more children with vital reading help. They send out T shirts to those who reach £100 in donations along with a R4R 2022 medal to everyone who has raised over £15 and a gold medal to those who have raised over £1,000.
My company will match any sponsorship I personally raise, so any money given via my Justgiving page will be doubled.
Thanks to my very kind supporters I’ve raised £355 so far, which will be doubled to make £710! This will be enough to ensure twenty volunteers are able to listen to children read and give them a love of books, improving their life chances.
And, I’ve stopped litter from threatening wildlife and polluting our seas. For a full list of things I’ve found washed up on the Solent over the years, please click here
Thanks go to Schoolreaders who change the life stories of so many children.
It’s great when things come together. I have a passion to promote literacy, a resolve to rid the coast of plastic pollution and a need to keep fit.
Day 2 – I love walking along beaches more than anything but litter picking can be challenging on a number of different levels. It takes time. I spent nearly two hours on the coast and, according to my Fit-bit, covered only 5km = 3.1 miles. Once home, I had to sort the rubbish and recycle the broken glass.
C is for caring
C is for constant cleaning
C is for change – change a child’s life chances
Day 3 -Another two hours clearing the foreshore and mudflats when I only covered 3.71km = 2.3 miles, but removed items that will never rot. Here’s a selection:
D is for Day 4
D is for Diligence
D is for Determination
90 mins spent covering 1.8 miles collecting 162 pieces of litter and plastic pollution including 6 bags full of dog poo, despite the provision of a council bin.
E is for Environment
E is for Everyone
E is for Energy
Day 5 – 90 minutes covering 2 miles along the coast and associated lanes.
F is for Fitness
F is for Friends
F is for Fishing debris
Day 6- 60 minutes in the fresh air covering half a mile through fields returning with baller-twine, a discard PVC dustbin and a broken wheelbarrow.
Day 7 – 90 minutes collecting 130 items of glass and plastic covering 3.75km = 2.3miles
Gillian, who accompanied me on one of my beach cleaning forays has written to say: ‘I found it surprisingly enjoyable and absorbing.’ She was once a volunteer school reader.
Would you sponsor me to continue to collect litter as I continue to walk along the coast for Race for Reading 2022? So far, I have only covered 12.2 miles but I have collected about 1,000 small pieces of rubbish, recycling the glass.
I’ve registered in my full name so Gift Aid can be added on my My JustGiving page. My company will match money given in sponsorship, so your donation will effectively be doubled.
Funds raised will go straight to Schoolreaders – a fantastic charity that supplies volunteers to listen to children read in school and whip up excitement about books and storytelling. A gift of £30 will fund the placement of a volunteer in a needy school for a year.
Over the next 80 days, supporters around the world will run, cycle, swim, row and walk to raise funds for the national charity Schoolreaders. They are encouraging litter-pickers to join their virtual race.
As an ambassador for Keep Britian Tidy, I have been litter-picking as I walk along the coast, cleaning beaches and shorelines of the United Kingdom on the Great British Spring Clean from 25th March to 10th April. I’m happy to extend this until 19th June 2022 when Schoolreaders virtual race ends.
Last year, a total of over 34,000 miles was covered by the registered participants. I kept a tally of miles walked while litter picking, clocking up 32 miles. My distance covered was not very impressive – but collecting flotsam takes time and my bucket can get heavy.
Somewhere I have a tally of the amount of rubbish collected. I certainly took a lot of photos. I’m hoping friends will join me this year as I’m aiming to walk a lot further.
I’m not sure if I will find anything that relates to books or reading but it is possible.
If you would like to support children’s reading in the UK there are many ways you can do so:
You can sign up to become a Schoolreaders volunteer– they ask for a commitment of one academic year to provide the children with consistency.
You can set up a regular donation for as little as £5 by clicking here
Funds raised will provide weekly one-to-one reading support sessions from Schoolreaders volunteers across the country. We are hoping to be able to help over 2,500 children who may have fallen behind with their reading during Lockdown.
I am writing to you for the first time, having found that you are the president of Arthur Ransome Society. Attached is a photo I took with Titty and her husband at their bungalow by the Coniston Water in 1985.
My name is Yoichiro Yamada. I have been with the foreign ministry of Japan since 1984. I am currently teaching at a university (and will return to the ministry next year).
I have held this photo in my album for 36 years now. It looks glossy because it is a digital photo of the original one.
I have cherished the memory of meeting Titty and her husband, but have never written to anyone about it before. When I was around 12-13 years old, I was fascinated by Arthur Ransome stories. I read all the volumes in the Japanese translation. Since then, I wanted to live in the U.K. some time in the future. My dream came true when I entered the foreign ministry and was sent to Beaconsfield (RAEC Center) for language training in Russian.
Taking advantage of that opportunity, I went to the Lake District, and after some luck, met Titty and her husband in 1985. I believe I was the only Japanese to have done so.
By coincidence, I have recently come to know about your society. I saw some photos of Ms. Mavis Altounyan (including those of her wedding), and was immediately convinced that it’s the same two persons that I met in 1985. I thought that I should write to you.
The original photo is in my father’s house, which has become vacant because he recently began to live in a pensioners’ home. So I cannot make a better copy of the original photo unless I go to that house by myself (which I intend to do this summer). I believe that in the same album there still remains a sheet of paper on which Titty made an autograph “Titty A.B.” for me (or perhaps “Titi A.B”…I cannot remember which way she wrote). I remember she said as she wrote it, “this is how I used to sign my name when I was very young.”
I hope this story and the photo are of interest to you and your society. Yours, sincerely,
Yoichiro (Giro) Yamada
I am no longer President of The Arthur Ransome Society, but I thought that others who love the Swallows and Amazons series of books would like to read this letter and asked permission to publish it, along with his photos.
I never met Titty Altouyan and was too shy to contact her but did rescue family photos of her wedding in Aleppo, which you can see on an earlier post here.
Here is another picture of her at her sister, Brigit’s wedding:
You can read a little more about her life and the origin of her name here.
I grew up with boats in the garden. My father owned eight at one time, including two coracles and a vintage river launch called Ottor that he renovated himself.
As a young man, while setting up a team to develop the fibreglass hull, Dad raced on the Solent, volunteered on a tall ship, and wrangled an Atlantic crossing on the maiden return voyage of the QE2, taking us children around the liner when it reached Southampton.
I learnt to sail dinghies at Newport Bay in Pembrokeshire, later making my own sail for a Thames skiff so that I could take it down the lake where I grew up in Gloucestershire.
My father wanted a Mirror dinghy, but since they were beyond his budget we had a dubious one-design with a ? on its sail.
Dad bought one of the first Toppers, which seemed quite daring at the time. It had no halyards. Its arrival caused much excitement. Called Earwig, the fibreglass hull was portable but proved precarious, soaking the crew as waves sloshed over her orange deck. I wasn’t much good at withstanding the cold and grew to loath setting off with wet feet.
Playing Titty in original film of ‘Swallows and Amazons’ involved quite a bit of rowing, which I kept up first as a member of the Collingwood Ladies Four at Durham University and later on the crew of The Drapers’ Shallop, a ceremonial barge that can be spotted on the Thames and River Lea, the Dart or Poole Harbour.
My dedication to fixed thwart rowing enabled me to take part in a Jubilee Pageant for The Queen at Henley, transport a copy of the Magna Carta to Windsor, and man an oar of the royal barge Gloriana in the Boat Race flotilla at Putney a year when Cambridge won.
Belonging to the rowing club,City Barge, enabled me to take part in the Voga Longa in Venice – a 35km marathon – with the gold medalist Ed Coode as stroke. I later rowed a sandalo down the Amstel into Amsterdam standing to row Venetian-style, getting used to the idea of using a forcola in windy weather.
We navigated the shallop down a tributary of the Loire in Brittany, leading a procession of two hundred and forty traditional boats into Nantes for the Rendez-vous de l’Erdre. I was asked to take the helm on the way back, great Dutch barges bearing down on us.
One of my favourite vessels is a two-man canvas canoe my sister found on a rubbish dump. I nearly drowned after getting stuck in a kayak and prefer an open dugout or fibreglass equivalent. These have taken me on adventures in Papua New Guinea, across Lake Malawi and through the Okavango Delta in Botswana.
Back in 1978, I helped my father, Martin Neville, to restore a 1901 steamboat called Daffodil, which they kept near Oxford at Port Meadow on the Thames.
We would steam down to Henley each year for the royal regatta or upstream towards Letchlade. You can read about how we renovated here here.
We took a Humber Yawl that Dad built to take part in a Steam Boat Association rally on Windermere and pay homage to launches used in the film ‘Swallows and Amazons’ kept by George Pattinson at the Steam Boat Museum, now known as Windermere Jetty.
I a lot of time on the water while filming the 1984 BBC adaptation of ‘Coot Club’ and ‘The Big Six’ when we spent three months filming on the Norfolk Broads. The series starred a yacht called Lullaby from Hunter’s Yard, which you can now hire for holidays.
I went away from my wedding in a punt, Dad polling while I sat with my new husband, holding an umbrella while a rainbow appeared over the water.
While serving as President of The Arthur Ransome Society, I gave twelve Q&As at cinemas. Members of SailRansome have often come along with the little clinker-built dinghy used as Swallow, which I helped purchase when she came up for auction in 2010.
I am often asked to write articles about my life afloat, and have spoken at literary festivals, on BBC Radio and on ITV News when I nearly capsized.
It is with The Arthur Ransome Society that I have been able to sail an historic wherry down the Norfolk Broads, take an old German ferry to Lundy Island and cruise down Coniston Water on SL Gondola.
As a member of the Nancy Blackett Trust, I’ve sailed on the Orwell, in the Solent and through the inland waterways of the Netherlands, visiting Middleburg.
I enjoyed crossing the Veersemere to Zierikzee in the wake of my own forefathers.
Over the years, I’ve grabbed the chance to sail yachts to Salcombe, up the coast of Norway and through the Mediterranean but I still love taking out a small boat in the Lake District or on the Norfolk Broads.
You can read more in ‘The Making of Swallows and Amazons’ available on line.