A TEAM of volunteers who have helped preserve and protect some of Sheffield’s most important waterways are celebrating after winning a top award.
The Blue Loop Troop help keep stretches of the Don and the Sheffield and Tinsley Canal clean and tidy, helping them thrive as vital havens for wildlife.
Up to 20 volunteers meet every Wednesday to keep the banks free from harmful litter and overgrowing greenery, making sure that the waterways are clean, green, attractive places for watery wildlife and people to visit. Now the team’s efforts have been recognised by the Canal and River Trust, a charity responsible for the nation’s waterways.
Once badly polluted, Sheffield’s waterways have been transformed in recent years and are now thriving, enjoyed by boaters, walkers, cyclists, anglers and nature lovers.
Today the Don and the canal are home to a wide range of wildlife with species such as newts, bats, kingfishers and otters all known to be living just a stone’s throw from the city centre and surrounding urban areas.
Since the Blue Loop project began in 2010, the volunteers have completed works worth a total of £30,000.
More than 40 people are registered as volunteers and they include retired people, Burmese Karen refugees, university students and jobseekers.
Jon Horsfall, waterways manager at the Canal and River Trust, said: “Last year was a momentous year for us and volunteers played a crucial and varied role in helping us maintain, improve and promote our waterways. The Blue Loop Troop are real unsung heroes who made a fantastic contribution to the city last year and they richly deserve this award.’’
The Blue Loop project is a partnership led by Groundwork and the River Stewardship Company and is funded by Natural England and the Big Lottery Fund.
It aims to reconnect communities around Sheffield with their local waterways.
The Blue Loop is a continuous loop of waterways and riverside walkways in the heart of Sheffield, made up of the River Don and Sheffield and Tinsley Canal. It travels for eight miles from the city centre and flows close by the communities of Burngreave, Attercliffe, Darnall and Tinsley.