Bowling ball and wheelbarrow among thousands of items pulled from River Bann near Portadown by anti-litter campaigner Jon Medlow

From bowling balls to a surge in spray paint cans and even a wheelbarrow, Jon Medlow of River Bann Clean Up has collected the most unusual items from the River Bann near Portadown.

Jon has gathered a small army of volunteers who are out in all weathers litter picking in canoes, gathering large quantities of plastic bags on floating rafts and sorting the rubbish for recycling.

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Just some of the items recovered from the River Bann near Portadown in one day this month (January 2023) by anti-litter canoeist John Medlow and his team of volunteers.

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Last week after paddle picks as well as sorting and counting what was removed from a small stretch of the River Bann, Jon said: “Where are we as a society, that we consider littering normal behaviour? This isn't the result of one section of society, age group, occupation or none. Ultimately, we are all responsible for this.

"Whether you dump it directly into the river or it's banks, leave it at the end of your land for the floods to take, dump your rubbish on the streets and roads or wherever else, it is us who are destroying the environment that sustains us.

"You wouldn't want this on your own doorstep (we could tell that from the bin strikes), so why is it acceptable to dump it on nature's? We need a re-think!”

A bowling ball, with the name Conor emblazoned on it, was recovered from the River Bann near Portadown this month (January 2023) by anti-litter canoeist John Medlow and his team of volunteers. Jon said the bowling ball was floating in the river.

Recently he was upset at the level of plastic ending up in the river from the Tesco warehouse in Portadown. But after a meeting with the manager of Tesco it was agreed the firm would net the warehouse perimeter to try and stop debris from leaving it and ending up in the river.

On that day alone their haul included 595 plastic bottles, 350 glass bottles, 68 cans, 41 spray cans, 23 tennis balls, 15 footballs, 14 plastic/rubber balls ,8 plastic buckets ,8 footwear, 5 plastic plant pots and 4 bin bags of miscellaneous litter. Among other things they collected 3 plastic ducks, 2 paint tins, a wheelbarrow wheel and a 10-pin bowling ball.

John, who started the clean up just over three years ago, began canoeing with his brother-in-law from the River Bann at Gilford and they travelled the entire length of the river to where it enters Lough Neagh at the Bannfoot.

He gave an extraordinary and detailed account of the level of rubbish he and volunteers collected from the River Bann last year while out canoeing.

Just some of the items recovered from the River Bann near Portadown in one day this month (January 2023) by anti-litter canoeist John Medlow and his team of volunteers.

They carried out 24 litter picks with 83 volunteers giving around 520 hours of their time to cleaning up the river. They collected 2,571 plastic bottles and 1,278 glass bottles which was down on the year before. They also collected 754 tin cans, 136 tennis balls and 112 footballs – also a reduction on the previous years. However there was a spike in the number of plastic buckets dumped in the river with Jon and crew collecting a total of 75 last year.

They did collect half the number of bin bags full of miscellaneous litter – a total of 24.5 bags down from 49.5 the year before. But they also retrieved more than double the number of lifebouy rings last year, a total of 23 whereas in the previous year they collected 10.

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