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Teenage kayaker completes clean-up of Norfolk Broads

PUBLISHED: 09:19 24 July 2019 | UPDATED: 09:27 24 July 2019

Will Darling litter-picking on his kayak on the Norfolk Broads. Pictures: Matthew Power Photography

Will Darling litter-picking on his kayak on the Norfolk Broads. Pictures: Matthew Power Photography

Archant

A teenage kayaker has completed his 100-mile clean-up of rubbish from the rivers and waterways of the Norfolk Broads.

Will Darling on the Norfolk Broads. Pictures: Matthew Power PhotographyWill Darling on the Norfolk Broads. Pictures: Matthew Power Photography

Will Darling, from Wroxham, took on the challenge in May 2018 after discovering 65 bits of rubbish in just two hours on a one-mile stretch of the Broads.

And the Broadland High School student has now completed his full circumnavigation of the Broads.

He said the most cost common items found were plastic bottles, buckets and bags, glass bottles, tennis balls or footballs and fenders. Among the unusual items discovered were car tyres, a solar panel charger, a message in a bottle and a complete boat toilet.

As well as improving the waterways where he lives, he has raised more than £5,000 for a trip to Africa, and he is now on a volunteering project in Tanzania.

Will Darling with some of the rubbish he found. Pictures: Peter DarlingWill Darling with some of the rubbish he found. Pictures: Peter Darling

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The 14-year-old, who was sponsored by Anglian Water, said: "I first spotted the rubbish while out on the Norfolk Broads, on my kayak, family boat or fishing from the river bank. The task needed to be done by kayak as the majority of the waste was impossible to access via a boat as it was trapped in areas of reeds, under over-hanging trees, dense bushes or in very shallow water.

"Most of the waste is non-biodegradable and would therefore remain in the Broads waterways forever, unless someone removed it.

"The impact of this problem is that it can affect the beautiful natural wildlife and their habitats along with visitors' perception and enjoyment of the locals. Therefore, I thought it would be a good idea to act sooner rather than later to reverse this worrying trend."

Will Darling with some of the rubbish he found.  Pictures: Peter DarlingWill Darling with some of the rubbish he found. Pictures: Peter Darling

His father Peter, who has supported him in the challenge, said: "He was only 13 when he created the 'The Great Broads Clean-up'

"He wanted to be a volunteer on a working expedition to Tanzania and that spurred on his idea of cleaning the Broads for his fundraiser."

The teenager has won two prizes for his work, the Innovators' Prize Award from Ormiston Academy and a Young People's Achievement Award from the Norfolk Community Biodiversity Group.

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