A GROUP of paddleboarders, including a dedicated six-year-old, are helping to keep the Avon riverbanks litter free and tidy.

Members of Bonkers Activities Paddleboarding School and Avon Navigation Trust’s ANT youth squad are on a plastic and rubbish clearing mission.

As soon as the last lockdown allowed, Bonkers’ Kim Bonk, in partnership with the Trust, organised a big clean up of the Pershore reach earlier this month.

One youngster enthusiastically joined in on board ANT’s river rescue boat during the Pershore litter pick.

Six-year-old Arty Barkley helped his mum Hannah on the big April Bonkers Paddleboard Club's spring clean in Pershore.

“He already has a good understanding of how important it is that we help to keep our waters clean,” Hannah said.

“He is always spotting plastics on the river and so was over the moon to be able to ride on a boat and to be able help.”

In May, a flotilla will launch a clear-up of Evesham’s award-winning Abbey Park.

“Paddleboards are the perfect platform for litter picking," said Kim.

"You can ram them right into the bushes and get to the litter you can’t reach from the bank or from bigger boats,” explains Kim.

The vanguard of volunteers are a mix of Bonkers’ customers and members of the Trust’s youth squad, whose duties include keeping the Avon tidy.

ANT Squad founder members include Thomas Welland and Kai Mellor, both 18.

They have already enjoyed British Canoe Rescue Training, a First Aid Course and Paddlesport Instructor schooling.

“They are a real asset to the Squad and passionate about the river,” says Trust chief executive Clive Matthews, who launched the youth group.

“The aim was to get the younger generation interested in the future of the river, and Thomas and Kai lead by example.”Bonkers is part of the national campaign and monitors and records all the litter collected. See more: https://planetpatrol.co/