Divers' rusty haul to help Chippenham River Festival flow smoothly

Wiltshire Times: Some of the rubbish cleared out of the River Avon by Calne Divers Some of the rubbish cleared out of the River Avon by Calne Divers

Calne Divers lifted 15 scooters, 10 bikes and nine shopping trolleys out of the river at Chippenham ahead of this weekend’s river festival.

The sixth festival, which takes place on Saturday, July 19, at Monkton Park, brings the chance to try a plethora of water-based activities, such as canoeing, kayaking and water polo.

There will also be a zip wire across the river for the first time.

The festival – open from 10am to 5pm – begins with a flotilla from Chippenham Sailing and Canoeing Club making its way upstream.

Mayor John Scragg will be transported to the park by the Chippenham Sea Cadets.

The Big Swim attracts wild swimmers from all over the country and will be followed by a 25-metre kids’ swim.

Project organiser Julia Stacey said: “You can race up the river, or for the less energetic, there will be trips on a river boat.

“This is a festival for all the family to enjoy, so come along and join the fun.”

On shore will be children’s activities, exhibitions, stalls and entertainment all day, with Punch and Judy, pirates and live music in a beer tent.

Calne Divers spent seven hours clearing the riverbed, near the Olympiad, of rubbish, pulling out scaffolding, a concrete park bin and a police sign appealing for witnesses.

The four divers also did a fingertip search, in neoprene gloves, to clear the bottom of glass. They found a sofa in a stretch five metres deep, but were unable to lift out.

Jon Dodsworth, chairman of Calne Divers, said: “It was not anywhere near as bad as what we normally get out by the town bridge. You can’t see anything down there, so it all has to be done by touch.”

The diving group will be providing a safety boat with first aid at the festival.

Mr Dodsworth said: “It is capable of travelling at 40 knots and most of the others will be doing two or three.”

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