A while ago someone at camp had this crazy idea: ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could float a banner down the River Severn?’ We all agreed it would be brilliant if we could do it but for a little while the idea fell by the wayside – until a few weeks ago. With a little help from the good people at Lush and their amazing Charity Pot we were finally able to put our plan into action, so we did!
With press releases freshly sent out on Friday morning, our ‘press department’ was inundated with phone calls from various local media including BBC Midlands Today, BBC Radio Shropshire, Beacon Radio and the Shropshire Star. The Shropshire Star, who were particularly interested, arranged to come and photograph our test launch that evening at the local Sea Cadets facility. The test went well, with a photograph appearing in the Shropshire Star’s Saturday edition, and also presented a few opportunities to make some last minute improvements to the raft itself.
Meanwhile, the media team received word that Midlands Today would like to meet us early in the day ahead of the launch and follow us to the launch site at Buildwas. With the last minute adjustments made everybody got an early night, ready for the hi-jinx on Saturday.
After an early morning wake up call and a quick breakfast we met up with Midlands Today who filmed some raft construction work and conducted an interview with one of our ‘eco-buccaneers’.
Whist the raft was being packed into the van and transported away for deployment, our team of ‘land-lubbers’ prepared to talk to locals and tourists, shop owners and museum staff about how they can help the camp and the cause at large. An hour or so later with news that the raft was being launched, the communication team headed off into Ironbridge ready to spread the good word.
The raft headed off down the River Severn from its launch point ready for its first engagement, a ‘photo shoot’ outside EON’s Buildwas B coal fired power station, the intended point of use for the coal from Huntington Lane. This all went without a hitch, we were even directed to a good vantage point for photographs by one of the power station security staff!
With the communication team arriving at the Iron Bridge ahead of the raft, there was plenty of time to chat to people in the vicinity of this World Heritage Site about the impact that the development at Huntington Lane will have on the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The response was pleasing with the vast majority being very supportive and keen to help if they could. A few people even came down to see us after hearing about us in an interview on BBC Radio Shropshire that was aired just as we got underway. A lot of shopkeepers were happy to take a stack of leaflets for the counter and we even got some into the Tourist Information point!
The raft and kayakers were greeted at the Ironbridge with whoops and cheers from passers by and members of the public who had hung around to see the raft after chatting with us. The raft even circled a couple of times to ensure everyone (especially the Shropshire Star photographer!) got a good photo before heading off down the river.
The communications team hung around the Ironbridge for a while before heading off to meet the raft crew at The Boat Inn, Jackfield. After a well earned drink (and some cake!) it was time to head back to camp with big, satisfied smiles on our faces. It was fantastic to find so much local support already there and to be able to garner so much more.
Many thanks to everyone who took part or turned out to support us on Saturday. It was a fantastic day, here’s to many more like it!