Sawbridgeworth River Day organised by the town council and Canal & River Trust is an eye-opener for visitors
Visitors to Sawbridgeworth's first River Day on Saturday (May 21) were treated to trips along the Stort, a paddle in a kayak and the chance to examine fascinating finds in a bio-zone tent.
The event at Sheering Mill Lock, organised by the town council in conjunction with the Canal & River Trust, attracted a steady stream of people keen to learn more about the river which runs through the town.
Local environmental expert Bob Reed ran the bio-zone and was delighted so many popped into the tent to discover some of the creatures which inhabit the river.
Bob had a 'name the fish' contest and took a small group "pond dipping", which, besides other creatures, revealed invasive species, including killer shrimp and zebra mussels.
The idea for River Day was sparked from the launch of the town's Citizens' Science Group, led by Bob, and the general consensus was to make it an annual event.
Bob felt it was important for people to learn about the Stort and said it was "quite an eye-opener" for many who attended.
"We do take the River Stort for granted," he said. "It has its problems, but everything we found will indicate the water quality is in the high to middle bracket.
"I think we've gone some way to making people rather more aware of the importance and biodiversity of our local wonderful resource in the River Stort."
Town councillor Annelise Furnace said: "It was a lovely event and we're really pleased with the turnout and feedback from those who attended.
"Visitors were fascinated by the river's wildlife and biodiversity, learning from the Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust and of course our own Sawbridgeworth Citizens' Science Group.
"The group's bio-zone tent went down a treat, showing life in the river on camera and through sound, as well as conducting experiments to test water quality."
Cllr Furnace, who is a co-founder of Sustainable Sawbridgeworth, added: "Thanks to the Canal & River Trust, visitors had a unique opportunity to tour the river by dredger boat and to understand the important role volunteers play in looking after the canal.
"The kayaking taster sessions from [canoe club] Whoosh were a big hit and Sawbridgeworth's fire brigade demonstrated their lifesaving in water techniques to Cubs and other children.
"All round it was a fantastic afternoon and hopefully River Day is an event that is here to stay!"