ARK Celebrates Milestone Year
2017 Celebration of a milestone year for Action for the River Kennet
(published 10 November 2017)

The Action for the River Kennet (ARK) Annual General Meeting was held in Marlborough Town Hall last night 27 years after the organisation’s first public meeting in the same building.
The charity noted with great pleasure that Thames Water has reduced the quantity of water abstracted from the River Kennet, which has been one of the group’s key campaign targets.  ARK’s Chairman Richard Clarke pointed out ‘This is a real cause for celebration, as is Thames Water’s ambition to perform better than the new abstraction licence requires’. He reminded the audience that as less water is being exported to Swindon it is important that people along the Kennet Valley play their part by using only the water they need.
ARK’s director, Charlotte Hitchmough announced that, in line with the ongoing strategy to become more active in the middle and downstream reaches of the Kennet, ARK will shortly be recruiting for a new member of staff to run projects between Hungerford and Reading.
Once the formal business of the meeting and a review of the year were complete,
there was a chance to recognise the important part that volunteers play in keeping the river in good health. The 2017 Volunteer of the Year awards were presented to two equally worthy winners Dr Rodney Owen Jones and Judy Pitts.
As well as his television appearance volunteering with ARK in Marlborough on Country File this summer, Rodney Owen Jones has been monitoring 18 river fly sites every month for the last 5 years. The data he has diligently collected form a critical part of ARK’s understanding of the state of the river, and an early warning of pollution.
Judy Pitts has been volunteering with ARK for more than four years. She works with school groups as well as monitoring riverflies, water voles, trout spawning and water quality and helping with practical tasks and keeping an eye on ARK’s livestock.  Judy and Rodney’s input represent just some of the 6,500 hours donated by volunteers in 2016-17.
Del Shackleford from Reading and District Anglers gave a fascinating presentation about his Kennet roach breeding project, which is helping to bolster the population of this lovely fish in the river.
The meeting was attended by a wide cross section of the river community including Kennet Valley residents, river keepers, riparian owners, volunteers and ARK members.