A group of Gloucestershire students kayaked the length of the River Thames in nine days to raise awareness about water pollution. The challenge would raise funds for Surfers Against Sewage while also documenting current river pollution levels. They set off on July 13, 2022, from the Cirencester village of Coates and were scheduled to arrive 200 miles (321 kilometers) later at Canvey Island in Essex. They would collect water samples along the route in order to document river pollution. A parliamentary report warned that raw sewage, microplastics, and slurry were coursing through all of England’s rivers, endangering human health and the environment. The students began by walking the first 11 miles (17.7km) and would portage, or carry, the kayaks on land where the river’s water level was too shallow to kayak in safely at the start. The group consisted of a tutor and four Cirencester College students who hoped to raise awareness about the UK’s polluted rivers.

They called it “tragic” that the Environmental Audit Committee discovered no rivers in England in “good” health as of 2022, and that 83 percent of freshwater species were declining globally. They hoped to discover which sections of the Thames were the most polluted by collecting four samples of water per day. According to Joshua Govier, when you do a lot of water sports, such as kayaking, you can see different colors on the water and a lot of water smell; it’s not pleasant to be on. He stated that he volunteered for the challenge because he was concerned about the pollution levels in the river, which could make people sick.