Swimmers in the river next to Temple Island Meadows, Henley-on-Thames

Happy days at Henley Swim Festival

Reflections on our day at Henley Swim Festival

Rebecca Duncan


The Outdoor Swimmer Henley Swim Festival on Sunday 10th July was one of the highlights of The Rivers Trust’s year so far. The sun was shining, the water was clear, and we had dozens of swimmers racing to support our work in protecting and improving river environments.

Our first fundraisers signed up to the event almost nine months ago, so it was incredible to finally put faces to the names we’ve seen on event reports and on JustGiving for all this time. Being able to hear the stories of people who care for rivers is a real privilege, and often a good laugh too.

We’re incredibly grateful to all of our fundraisers for their efforts over recent weeks and months, but we have to give a very special shoutout to Alice Moon, who raised a whopping £1,165! Alice was swimming in memory of her mum, and went to great lengths (pun not intended) to raise money, even hosting a special quiz night for her friends.

Right to left: PR & Events Coordinator Rebecca Duncan, fundraiser Alice Moon, and Advocacy and Engagement Director Christine Colvin smile
Fundraiser Alice Moon (centre) with PR & Events Coordinator Rebecca Duncan (L) and Advocacy & Engagement Director Christine Colvin (R)

Overall, we have now raised over £6,000 from our festival campaign, and there is still time to donate via JustGiving – every penny counts towards improving rivers for people and wildlife.

In addition to talking with our team of fundraisers, another highlight of the day was using our water display tank to talk with children and families about river vegetation and wildlife. Keeping the water safe on such a warm day wasn’t easy, but Communities & Engagement Lead Alisdair did a fantastic job of keeping all human and non-human creatures happy and entertained! Hopefully we have ignited a fire in some future conservationists; watch this space…

Viewed from the back, a family of young children gathered around a water display tank
Communities & Engagement Lead Alisdair Naulls entertains some future conservationists

We talk a lot about our vision of wild, healthy, natural rivers, valued by all, and events like Henley are a great reminder of exactly what that means. Being close to nature fosters a love of nature, and means people are more care for their local environment. This leads us to our final thank you, which of course goes to the Outdoor Swimmer Henley Swim Festival team themselves, for inviting us on board to form this match made in heaven. The swimming community is becoming an ever-more important ally in the fight for Britain’s rivers, and we can’t wait to see what’s next in this journey.

Fundraisers Sue Brearley and Matt Broom smile after swimming in the river
Fundraisers Sue Brearley (L) and Matt Broom (R) were all smiles after swimming
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