Waterlight Screening at Reed Gardening Club

This was another first for the Waterlight Team: a showing to a gardening club. Our screening for Reed Gardening Club — near Royston in Hertfordshire on 13th March — was again in a village hall opposite the village green. These halls appear to have all been built around the same period to a similar design.

Showing Reed Village Hall - venue for the Reed Gardening Club screening of 'Waterlight'.

In his introduction, Waterlight team member Bruce Huett — a keen allotment holder — highlighted the importance of water for gardening and how we must keep up our efforts to ensure that over-abstraction is stopped by the water companies. He also emphasised the importance of using water judiciously in gardening and mentioned that Cam Valley Forum, the chalk stream preservation action group, had just issued two leaflets; one comparing high and low water users and another with tips on restricting water use around the home.

It was encouraging to hear that several members of Reed Gardening Club had already walked the footpath along the Mel, so the film brought back happy memories of the river for them but also provided interesting additional information to enhance their enjoyment on their next walk there.

Some members of the group were involved in improvement to their local chalk stream the Rib — see the River Rib Restoration Project. They were encouraged in their work by the improvement that had been made on the Mel e.g. silt removal and revetment construction, which has produced a much better flow and revealed the beautiful chalk and gravel base so loved by invertebrates. Bruce was able to talk in detail about the work carried out by the River Mel Restoration Group featured in the film, and explain some of the techniques and the purpose of different elements of the restoration, to help them with their own project.

Showing the River Rib Restoration Project plan
River Rib Restoration Project plan: a project to enhance 2km of the River Rib for wildlife and people

It was interesting to hear that the river, and the moats and pools in the village, are located on the same hard chalk bed that stretches from the Chilterns and forms the base of the Mel.

There were about 30 members of Reed Gardening Club present and there was the usual lively discussion over tea and biscuits at the end of the showing.

Don’t forget to check our Upcoming Events page for future talks or screenings of Waterlight.

Waterlight Film Showing at Royston W.I.

On 9th March 2023 — a very cold and drizzly afternoon, with snow flurries trying to carpet the road outside — about 30 ladies from Royston WI were transported to the world of the Mel through the Waterlight film. 

Royston is a particularly appropriate setting for showing the film as the water that supplies the Mel originates as rain falling on the soft chalk hills surrounding the town. Today, the melted snow will percolate through the chalk to eventually emerge at the springs in Melbourn, the source of the Mel. In his introduction, Bruce Huett drew parallels with his experience of snow melt from the Himalayas supplying the rivers of Tibet, other parts of China and India.

Showing speaker Bruce Huett talking with an audience member after the Royston WI screening
Speaker Bruce Huett talking with an audience member while others chat after the Royston WI screening.

Although Waterlight was not made as a campaigning film, audience members recognised links to national concerns about the general health of English rivers and mentioned the recent BBC programmes ‘Our Troubled Rivers’.

Following the screening, the Royston WI secretary e-mailed:

“Thank you again for coming to show your film and talk to us this afternoon. It was a very calm, peaceful watch, with beautiful music, as well as being very informative. I hope you could see how engaged all our ladies were. It made our afternoon very enjoyable”.

Bruce was again delighted to receive an account of someone who remembered playing in the river at Melbourn as a child, which was similar to accounts he had collected in ‘memory capture’ events with elderly residents in Melbourn and Royston. They had described swimming, paddling down the river in boats improvised from rubber tubes or barrels, fishing and generally messing about in the river or on the banks for whole days in the summer. Some of these accounts are on the Your Waterlight Stories page of this website and others can be found in the Mel pages at Meldreth History, The Story of a Cambridgeshire Village

Others, who had visited the British Queen pub in Meldreth but had never taken the short walk across the field at the back to the river, now decided that on their next trip there they will definitely take a stroll along the Mel and visit the adjacent Melwood local Nature Reserve that is featured in the film.

Shwoing DVDs of 'Waterlight: Portrait of a Chalk Stream' on sale at Royston WI
DVDs of ‘Waterlight: Portrait of a Chalk Stream’ on sale at Royston WI. Click on the image to go to our Waterlight Film DVD & Digital Download page.