Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

River Yields Its Secrets; Blind Sailor among Project's Finds in Tyne

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

River Yields Its Secrets; Blind Sailor among Project's Finds in Tyne

Article excerpt

Byline: JOANNE BUTCHER

THEY'VE fished 950 tons of junk out of our river, recovered stolen goods and even rescued a stranded sailor from a mudbank.

From shopping trolleys to suitcases full of silver, the Clean Tyne Project has seen it all in the past nine years.

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And their hard work is paying off as the river is now thought to be cleaner than it has been for decades.

The project - run as a partnership between the Port of Tyne and Gateshead, South Tyneside, North Tyneside and Newcastle councils - sees the Clearwater boat bobbing up and down the river, pulling out the muck.

Meanwhile, over 700 volunteers from 30 local firms have also rolled up their sleeves to help out with the big clean.

Project manager Jayne Calvert said there are plenty of unusual hauls.

But perhaps the most strange came when they picked up a blind sailor and his dog who had got themselves marooned on a mud bank.

"Our crew were amazed to find he was blind when they went to help the gentlemen off the mudbank," said Ms Calvert. "It was at the end of last summer.

"His friend and guide hadn't turned up so he decided to set sail himself. Naturally he was very embarrassed. That has to be the strangest thing that's happened so far."

And it wasn't the first time they have turned lifesaver.

"Our guys once rescued a woman in an electric wheelchair," Ms Calvert said. "She lost control and fell into the river. They were in the right place at the right time."

Around 90% of the rubbish is timber, especially after the floods washed whole trees downstream.

But sometimes we find some loot," Ms Calvert added. "Once we found a suitcase full of silver which we think had been thrown off the Scotswood Bridge. We handed it in to the police."

Less than 8% of the rubbish pulled from the Tyne is sent to landfill. …

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