Andrew Holden

Why did you join Cardiff Rivers Group?

My wife has always been the volunteering sort. In 2010, just prior to our 5 year stint in Australia, she coaxed me out to a couple of Keep Wales Tidy – Tidy Towns events. It was, I have to confess, very satisfying.

During our time in Oz, she did a lot more of the same and in the process worked on some great projects, saw a great deal more of the area and broadened our circle of friends beyond my colleagues and the Melbourne Welsh Facebook group. When we eventually packed up our tucker bags and headed back to soggy Cardiff, in 2015, I was determined to get out and about and involved more myself.

As usual my good lady had scoped out the local voluntary groups, including Friends of Bute Park where she became aware of Cardiff Rivers Group. When she mentioned a spot of feeder canal clearing and general litter picking behind Cardiff Castle with them, I seized my chance and took the plunge. So, on a cold and wet December morning my life changed a little.

Please tell us your story!

I have to say, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed each event I’ve attended. The people are wonderful. The work is worthwhile, diverse and satisfying. Even on the coldest, wettest days the atmosphere with the group is always cheerful and sunny.

What changes have you seen in your community as a result of your actions?

Over the last few months quite a few local communities have started up their own volunteering groups. I’m happy to say that I played a small part of getting Keep Cathays Tidy off the ground and our first litter pick was a great success with volunteers representing all parts of the community getting together and chipping in.

Why do you enjoy volunteering with CRG?

I enjoy my time with the CRG because it’s not just about litter. Keeping the rivers and surrounding areas in good shape, getting rid of invasive plants, creating and maintaining habitats and learning heaps of new stuff on the way help keep me in touch with the abundant nature that makes up our lovely city. What’s more, you can’t beat that warm, smug feeling of satisfaction when you’re filthy and knackered at the end of a couple of hours of lugging stuff up river banks. Better than any workout in any gym I’ve been to.

What advice, hints or tips you would give to someone joining CRG?

Don’t worry about committing yourself to giving up your Saturday mornings for the rest of your life. Do what you can, when you can. If you only pick up a couple of beer cans or pull up one Himalayan Balsam, that’s two fewer beer cans blighting our city and one more chance for our native flora to thrive.