Appalling pollution which led to a beck running black, killing thousands of fish and other wildlife, has prompted a major campaign to keep waterways healthy.

When the Holme to Skeeby Beck in north Richmondshire ran black for 15 hours in April 2023, residents and anglers mobilised to alert the authorities to investigate while the clean up began.

A crowd funding campaign set up for restoration of the beck raised nearly £6,000, and by August, a new team of volunteers had been trained to undertake river fly monitoring at 11 sites across the catchment to check the beck's recovery and identify future pollution.

The incident reminded people how important healthy watercourses are and came at the same time as a new nature improvement initiative in Holmedale covering the Whashton, Ravensworth, Kirby Hill, Dalton, Gayles, Newsham and Barningham area, which saw people consulted about what types of nature boosting activities they would like to prioritise.

Improved management of local rivers, streams and adjacent land came top of the list. 

The fledgling Holmedale group started by Lizzie Rumble and Sally Zaranko invited the Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust to visit some of the local becks.

A spokesperson said: "It was quickly apparent that the wealth of experience at the Rivers Trust would be important to furthering the Holmedale project objectives. Consequently, the group is pleased to be welcoming Charlotte Simmons, senior catchment partnership officer, to speak on the topic of "healthy rivers".

"Charlotte will be covering the aspects of a river that are considered when deciding on whether a river is healthy or not from the perspective of the Water Framework Directive, as well as what to look for in a healthy natural river.

"Charlotte has worked for over 30 years in conservation from agri-environment work on the ground to project management. In her current role at the Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust, she hosts the Dales to Vale Rivers Network, a partnership of people and organisations working together across the Swale, Ure, Nidd, Ouse, Wiske, Foss and Wharfe river catchments.

"She knew from an early age that she wanted to work in the countryside and her aim is to see healthy rivers with abundant wildlife, valued by communities.

"She will be discussing ‘What is a Healthy River’, with a talk at Dalton & Gayles Village Hall, Monday January, 22, at 7.30pm. A £2 donation is requested to include refreshments.”

Further talks and activities are planned by the Holmedale nature project, contact