School dips in to something fishy

MESSING about on the river led to a lesson in conservation for Longhorsley pupils.

Children from Longhorsley St Helen’s First School were invited along to the River Font to try out trout tickling, bug hunting and dipping with waterways charity Northumberland Rivers Trust.

The initiative was part of the trust’s Wansbeck 100 project, which aims to teach five to nine-year-olds more about rivers and streams, the importance of their ecosystems and the need to conserve the natural environment.

Trust Environmental and Farm Advisor George Dodd said: “This is an exciting opportunity for children to learn in a hands-on way about our river ecosystems in a way that no book could match.

“It has been great fun and everybody has enjoyed looking for the insects and creatures you find in and around the river. It’s very important that children learn about the river and the life in it from an early age, which helps them develop an appreciation for their own environment.”

Seven-year-old Issie Clifford said: “We’ve done lots of fun activities like river dipping, which was my favourite. We found mayflies and lots of other beetles.”

However, the lesson does not end there as the school has taken delivery of 24 tiny brown trout for children to care for. The fish are currently living in specially designed, chilled tanks and will be released into the river later this summer.

The trust, which works to restore and safeguard Northumberland’s rivers and streams, wanted to teach children about the river where their fish will be released.

School Assistant Headteacher Finn Willcock said: “We jumped at the chance to get involved in the project with Northumberland Rivers Trust. It is important for the children to learn about rivers and watercourses. It is a key objective to ensure children are knowledgeable about their local environment and grow up to value and care for it.”