Despite it being a dark and damp evening in January it was absolutely marvellous to see 40+ hardy souls assemble at Braughing’s Community Centre for our first public meeting of 2020.
Our public meetings are a chance to share what we have been up to since our last gathering, to learn more about our chalk streams, answer questions and to discuss plans for the future. This was our first under the banner of Friends of the Rib & Quin so it was more than appropriate that we were gathered in Braughing and we are indebted to Pauline and Andy Avery who booked and hired the hall for us.
The minutes of the meeting are posted in our Documents section but here’s a few of the key points;
- FORQ has a committee of five now in place and has opened a community bank account.
- We have an email circulation list now numbering well in excess of 70 and have growing numbers of followers and members on our Twitter, Instagram and Facebook groups.
- Our aims and objectives are to
- Raise AWARENESS of the rarity and importance of our local chalk streams
- BENCHMARK and survey the rivers and the wildlife they support
- CAMPAIGN for solutions to the abstraction and pollution that reduces flows and blights water quality
- We are fundraising to support the these objectives
- We will have stalls at Standon May Day, Buntingford VE 75 Celebrations and Braughing Wheelbarrow Race and are keen to participate in others.
- We have a T-shirt shop on our website, profits from which go to FORQ funds.
- We are active on social media and encourage all supporters to spread the word. We have a developing website which already has a number of links and resources but will continue to grow as our work and knowledge does.
In parallel to our group’s formation has been a developing initiative by Buntingford Town Council to investigate how river flows through the town could be increased and how improvements could be made to the river. At the meeting Brian Lemay from Council was able to bring us the latest news that Buntingford Town Council had approved a contribution towards the next phase of planning that will require specialist consultancy. It is hoped that this will be matched through other sources. Watch this space for future news on this. You can also view the initial plan prepared by HMWT here.
Brian was also able to announce that Buntingford Civic Society would be making a donation of £900 to Friends of the Rib & Quin, for which we are extremely grateful and takes us a good way towards our financial target to be ready for our spring and summer events.
Having been updated with our local news our guest speaker John Pritchard shared with everyone the story of the Ver Valley from Roman times through to the Society’s inception in the 1970’s drought years as well as their work both improving the river environment with local landowners and campaigning to restore water to the River Ver, which dried in large stretches last summer. In an effort to bring attention to this the Ver Valley Society called for a Protest in the Park on World Rivers Day in St. Albans Park last September. Despite the short notice, the public response was significant, with over 300 gathering in the shadow of gathering storms to stand in the dry river bed.
It was a powerful talk. The story of the gradual diminishment of our chalk streams is a long and sad one. But it was equally inspirational, ultimately demonstrating that a growing number care about what is happening to Hertfordshire’s rivers and that together we can make a difference, both with practical effort and in adding our voices to the campaign.