Brother raises money for Marine Conservation Society and urges water companies to be more accountable
Cycling the UK in memory of sister killed by dirty seawater
A man, who’s sister died in 1957 at the age of 6 after contracting polio from swimming in polluted seas, is cycling the length of the UK to raise funds for an environmental charity that continues the work his parents started in her memory.
Chris Wakefield from Lymm in Cheshire, was 14 when his sister Caroline swam off Gosport beach, after the local authority told the public swimming there was safe as sea water itself killed any bacteria.
“Up until then my parents hadn’t let us swim off the beach because we knew it was polluted. There was an old Victorian outfall system with a collection tank that overflowed raw sewage onto the beach when it was full. In the 50’s you believed what the authorities said, so my parents allowed my sister in on a day that I didn’t go to the beach with them. Shortly afterwards we went on a family holiday to Devon and Caroline developed a fever and was diagnosed with polio. She died in the autumn of 1957 after contracting Asian flu which went straight to her already weakened lungs.”
Devastated and angered by their daughter’s death, Tony and Daphne, approached the local authority who had said the bathing water was safe, and demanded they take action. They were told that tax payers wouldn’t want money to be spent cleaning up bathing water.
In response the Wakefield’s started publishing a ‘Golden List’ of clean bathing beaches which, along with other clean sea campaigns and new laws, finally led to the clean up of continuous raw sewage discharges at most of our beaches.
In 1987, the Wakefield’s gave their ‘Golden List’ to the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) who still publish it every year as the Good Beach Guide (www.goodbeachguide.co.cuk)
Now, 67, Chris Wakefield is cycling from John O’ Groats to Lands End to raise money for MCS to help continue their work campaigning for clean seas and beaches.
“I’m doing it along with 600 other people all raising money for chosen charities. BBC Panorama ran a programme last year on the continuing issue of sewage pumped onto beaches and I’ve done a number of interviews about that issue, which is why I’ve chosen to raise money for MCS. More still needs to be done to ensure people know about the problems of sewage overflow pipes. Water authorities must know when they need to discharge these overflow pipes – why can’t notices be in place warning people to stay out of the water. There needs to be far more openness about this issue.”
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