Ealing Golf Club (EGC) is an urban golf course bounded by a park, several public footpaths and flowing alongside and through it, the River Brent. As a result, we suffer from fly-tipping, casual littering and flooding. The combination creates a significant environmental and pollution challenge.
The General Manager of EGC, Dave Jones, was initially approached by a local community litter picking group called the Litter Action Group for Ealing Residents, aka Lager Can (LC), offering to help clear up areas of the golf course that either border onto public pathways or are visible from Pitshanger Park. Jane Branch, a member of both EGC and LC, volunteered to liaise between the two groups and, alongside Mark Partridge who had already started litter picking on the 17th hole formed the ‘EGC Wombles’ WhatsApp group. The first official litter pick took place with five EGC members and three LC members present.
From humble beginnings the ‘EGC Wombles’ have gone from strength to strength, focussing on all areas of our golf course. Meanwhile, LC has remained very supportive leading the clean-up of surrounding public areas and arranging the removal by Ealing Council of rubbish and fly-tipped waste from Perivale Lane and the infamous ‘fly-tipping hellhole’ by the entrance to our golf club. We have also forged a good working relationship with St Benedict’s School and together have cleaned up the Brent tributary running between their playing fields and our 10th hole. More recently we have organised a joint clean-up of the river Brent with the Gurnell Greenwayers. This event is set for mid-July. In addition, our local MP, James Murray, is brokering a meeting between Ealing Council officials and members of EGC to discuss appropriate action to meet the challenges we face both on our golf course and in the surrounding locality.
Finally, the golfers are enjoying playing on our pristine course, people walking in Pitshanger Park have commented on how lovely it looks and we have received some unexpected but very welcome visitors, a pair of swans and a 3-foot carp!
To date our main achievements, include:
The number of bags picked = 381 plus numerous and varied unbaggables. Examples include – car registration plates, car bumpers and lights, tyres, a roof rack, highways signs, remnants of old fencing, mattresses, an electric sewing machine, a flat-screen TV, an ironing board, an oven, a sofa & chairs, many coconut halves and even 3 cannabis plants! All the rubbish collected from the course has been removed by our Course Manager, Wes, and his greenkeeping team who, at last count, had filled 3 skips!
Number of volunteers = 29
Number of person-hours spent picking = 323 person-hours (the equivalent of 9 weeks for 1 person working a full time 35 hr week),
A new walkway created by the side of the river of 17th hole to enable future clearance of rubbish on the bank,
Clearance and repainting of the fencing adjacent to our events suite entrance following repair arranged by our General Manager. Also freeing up an overgrown parking space!
Over 1,000 cleaned balls (found during litter picking) given to our Golf Professional, Ricky, who has already donated over 800 to local charities and clubs EGC work with. The remainder has been used for tuition sessions and given to our newer members (particularly our juniors).
Closer contact with businesses and communities in the locality has stimulated and heightened our profile and developed a sense of Community spirit.
In addition to the environmental and community benefits, the EGC Wombles’ activities have provided a sense of improved wellbeing for some of our single, elderly or vulnerable members who may otherwise have been feeling isolated given the difficulties over the last year.
It seems clear that if we are to continue to maintain a litter-free course we need an approach that exploits the ongoing enthusiasm of the Wombles, avoids interfering with playing golf and works closely with our Management Team at Ealing.
The suggestions 1 – 4 below were recently presented to the EGC Board and given the go-ahead.
Each Womble should be given a chance to volunteer to become a Champion who would ‘adopt’ a particular hole and/or general areas such as the car park/clubhouse,
Organised events when the course is otherwise closed for maintenance or bad weather (particularly after the Brent floods). One has recently been scheduled for mid-July.
Organise, as appropriate, river rubbish clearance in conjunction with Gurnell Greenwayers. Also scheduled for mid-July.
Continue to work with St Benedict’s school to ensure the boundary is litter-free and to establish further relationships with local businesses and communities to; report fly-tipping, regularly check on the state of rubbish in Perivale Lane & the public pathways and organise litter picking when necessary.
The Board agreed our other recommendations which have financial (eg fencing, installation of additional bins) and/or wider implications for the layout of the course (eg removal of brambles/additional planting) be considered by our newly formed Members Group.
Our General Manager, Dave for his support and Course Manager, Wes with his green staff who have worked alongside us and been fantastic at removing and disposing of the rubbish collected.
Ricky, our Pro, for his ideas and support and finding a home for all the retrieved golf balls.
Lager Can volunteers who have been on hand to offer advice and organisation of the clearance of rubbish and the disposal of fly-tipping in Perivale Lane and the paths bordering the golf course.
St Benedict’s Estates Director, for his co-operation clearing the Brent tributary alongside hole 10.
Various Board members who have supported this initiative.
The Gardening Group for their support and advice, in particular Pam Fox who also alongside husband, Tim and Peter McLeod informally helped litter pick the course.
The Wombles – a wonderful team turning out in all weather.
Jane Branch, Chief Womble-Ealing Golf Club
26th April 2021