Press release

James Cracknell and Richard Benyon call for people to love their rivers

Double Olympic gold medal-winning rower James Cracknell and Natural Environment Minister Richard Benyon today urged the public to show their…

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Double Olympic gold medal-winning rower James Cracknell and Natural Environment Minister Richard Benyon today urged the public to show their support for the ‘Love Your River’ campaign.

The ‘Love Your River’ campaign encourages people to value their local river and shows the relationship between water in a river and the water used in the home.

Richard Benyon and James Cracknell, the new Love Your River Campaign Adviser, both donned wellingtons before stepping into the River Chess in Chesham, joined by local school children in an activity called ‘kick-sampling’* an activity used to monitor a river’s environmental health.

Working in support of the ‘Love Your River’ campaign, Thames Water and the River Chess Association were there to show James Cracknell and Richard Benyon how water companies and local community groups are working together to improve the water quality on the River Chess.

Natural Environment Minister Richard Benyon said:

“I am delighted that James Cracknell has come on board as the ‘Love Your River’ Campaign Adviser. James has a great passion for rivers and is the perfect person to explain the many benefits that rivers bring to our everyday lives. We rely on rivers for much of the water we use, so it is in all our interest that we protect and cherish them.

“The fact that so many organisations and individuals have come together to back this campaign shows the importance we all place on making sure our actions don’t damage our rivers.”

James Cracknell Love Your River Campaign Adviser, said:

“I’m really pleased to be joining the ‘Love Your River’ campaign. Going to school in Kingston, I’ve experienced first-hand the benefits a river can bring to a community - not only for physical activity, but socially and fiscally also.

“We’ve all got a role to play in making sure our rivers are as healthy as they can be and I’m pleased to be involved.”

The ‘Love Your River’ campaign is a partnership between Defra, the National Trust, the Environment Agency, the Wildlife Trusts, Keep Britain Tidy and water companies such as Thames Water.

Today’s visit, in support of the national ‘Love Your River’ campaign, was hosted by the River Chess Association (RCA) with partners Thames Water, which recycles its customers’ treated wastewater back to the Chess.

Paul Jennings, chairman of the River Chess Association (RCA), said:

“We are one of hundreds of river trusts around the country, and our aim is to get local people involved in understanding and caring for their local river. We are really pleased the ‘Love Your River’ campaign is highlighting the need for all of us to care for our local waterways.”

Richard Aylard, Sustainability Director for Thames Water, said:

“While we may see our local river every day as we go to work or drop the children off at school, it is easy to overlook the simple fact that water from that river is what comes out of our taps and showers. Every drop we use is a drop less in the river. ‘Love Your River’ seeks to remind us that using water wisely - whatever the weather - can help protect our glorious rivers.”

The ‘Love Your River’ campaign is not just about educating people about the difficulties that many rivers face. It’s about recognising the great work that local groups already do to look after their rivers. It’s about honouring the community spirit and the inspirational individuals who give up their time and energy to improve their local environment.


  • The ‘Love Your River’ campaign was launched by Richard Benyon at the River Itchen in Hampshire in March 2012.
  • Kick-sampling, which is used to monitor a river’s environmental health, involves roughing-up a river bed with your boots and collecting what is disturbed in nets. The number of bugs, shrimps and other wildlife are measured and a monthly river-health score is calculated, with laboratory tests carried out if necessary.
  • The River Chess runs through the Chess Valley, part of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, to Rickmansworth, where it becomes a tributary of the River Colne. It is home to water vole, brown trout, kingfisher and water crowfoot.
  • The website for the ‘Love Your River’ campaign can be found at:
  • School children from St Clement Danes school in Chorleywood, Herts,Harefield Academy, Uxbridge will participate in the ‘kick-sampling’ activity.
Published 15 October 2012