This is the virus”: Kayak cleaner Jon on a mission to beat Bann ‘pandemic’

By James Gould

John in his kayak turned rubbish bin

It was during a leisurely stroll along the River Bann towpath, a popular ‘beauty spot’ in Portadown, that left John Medlow “disgusted” at what he saw.

The 40-year-old water sports fan had been a regular visitor for years but on this particular day last year he was shocked by the amount of rubbish strewn over the pathways and clinging to the banks of the river.

“It was a disgrace,” he said.

“I saw an issue that nobody was dealing with, I thought something had to be done and that I could be that person to help. I thought it would take about a week.”

 Ever since then, he has taken to the water in his kayak to start his own clean-up operation.

“I would get people coming from as far as Portrush to help, most don’t even have experience on the water” he added

 “Even with coronavirus restrictions, people came out with their masks on and kept to social distancing rules.

“As far as I’m concerned, this is another virus we need to get rid of.”

Among the thousands of bottles, plastic bags and hundreds of footballs and trollies Jon recently helped remove two cars that had been in the river for more than five years.

Recently the PSNI have responded to anti-social behaviour along the towpath and that has led to excess rubbish.

“I was young once, I understand,” he said

“However, it’s not hard to throw your bottles in the bin”

Mr Medlow, urged everyone to like the Facebook page ‘River Bann Clean-up Portadown’

“It would be good to feel that there are others out there who care for the place like me,” he said. “Let’s make this place a cleaner environment for those like myself who love this area.

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