Pensioner, 77, pulls bathroom suite from Northampton lake in single-handed clean-up effort

Bridget Owens pictured next to Kingfisher Lake which she has spent weeks clearing up alone.
Bridget Owens pictured next to Kingfisher Lake which she has spent weeks clearing up alone.

Bridget Owens is not one to put her feet up during retirement. Instead she has been praised by her neighbours for her mammoth efforts clearing up Kingfisher Lake.

In recent years people in the eastern side of Northampton have watched water levels drop and pollution rise at the three Billing Brook lakes in Lings, Lumbertubs and Thorplands.

The lake now appears a lot clearer after Bridget has been tending to it since March.

The lake now appears a lot clearer after Bridget has been tending to it since March.

The lakes, which were once known for their picturesque scenery, are now strewn with old bicycles and rubbish.

Bridget, who lives near Kingsfisher Lake, has been cleaning that area since March. Most days she does it on her own, but she had to call her daughter to help her pull four trolleys from the water after she had broken her arm last year.

"We were taught at school by our head master that if anybody dropped anything he would be on us like a tonne of bricks.

"He said 'put it in your pocket or put it in the bin'.

This picture shows just some of the rubbish Bridget and her daughter managed to clear over a bank holiday weekend.

This picture shows just some of the rubbish Bridget and her daughter managed to clear over a bank holiday weekend.

"It was ingrained in us. I don't think people are bothered these days."

Bridget has cleaned up an entire bathroom suite with a toilet system, children's scooters, bicycles, and an entire black bin bag of dumped frozen food from in and around the lake in just two months.

"I'm just hoping that what I've cleaned up was an accumulation over the years," Bridget said.

"And now it's clear one lady said to me 'the clearer it is the less people will litter it', and that's a lovely thought."

Her neighbour, Carol Crabb, commended her actions. She said: "I think what Bridget has done for our community is amazing.

"I have lived in the area nearly 20 years and regularly walk around the lake with my dog.

"It was a shame to see it when it was so over grown, and with so much rubbish, but now it is much nicer and will be far better for the wildlife, and environment."

Plans for cleaning up the three lakes were put on hold this year after a potential backer for the scheme dropped out.

But Growing Together Northampton has said £75,000 has been "firmly committed" from the Environment Agency, Northampton Borough Council and the Growing Together Lottery.

In a letter sent round to homes near the lakes, the letter said "there’s a further £31,500 on offer from the Environment Agency, so long as we can spend it by March.

"This is a lot of money, but it’s not enough to do the full project that we consulted you about. However, we‘d also been told that a further six figure contribution from a major funder was pretty much in the bag. This would have enabled us to do the whole project.

"To our enormous frustration, we were then told several months later that the money wasn’t on offer any more. However, they’re inviting applications again next year, and if we can go for it we will."

Works have been delayed until September 2019 - after the bird-nesting season - and it's hoped the £75,000 will be match-funded.