Our work
Rivers all over the world are suffering. They have been polluted with toxic chemicals and waste, their natural flow manipulated and are consistently treated as dumping grounds. They can no longer breathe, the vast biodiversity that once existed has disappeared, and they are often unsafe for humans to bathe in, let alone drink. The rivers in England are no exception. Only 14% are classed as having ‘Good Ecological Status’ - or, as close to their natural state as possible - and all of them failed their most recent pollution tests. Yet this was not always the case, nor does it have to be.

Friends of the River Medway strive to change this and help the River Medway return to optimum health. We aim to do this through following three interwoven streams: the Practical, Legal and Sacred impulses. Though we eventually hope to extend our vision and reach all rivers, our initial focus is on our local catchment area: the Upper Medway.

The poor health of the River Medway and surrounding banks has largely arisen out of a disconnect between humans and nature, as well as the need to control and dominate the natural environment that is predominant in many industrialised societies. It is a pattern that is evident across the globe, leading to disharmony and chaos across ecosystems. Rather than just addressing pollution sources, we therefore seek to transform what is at the root of the problem: our relationship with the River and all that she provides. We wish to approach the River in friendship and respect so that we can become loving guardians of the water, reviving the gratitude, connection and respect that was once deeply ingrained.
It is time to harmonise ourselves with nature’s beautiful, flowing symphony.

The River Medway
Photo credit: Zofia Page


We strive to stop pollution at its source, addressing the systems that contribute to polluting products and processes, rather than merely cleaning up after them. Though we don’t want to put all the onus on the individual, we also recognise the power of personal actions in directing and influencing those systems. We therefore aim to promote and raise awareness of behaviour changes that help reduce rubbish, waste and pollution entering the River.


Water pollution is a complex issue, yet there are two industries that are relatively consistent in their contributions: agriculture and water treatment. The chemicals used in conventional agriculture pose a significant threat to rivers, in addition to nutrient-rich runoff from manure and slurry, whilst water companies are licensed to discharge untreated sewage right into waterways under ‘extreme weather conditions’ and can abstract water from rivers, altering their flow and ecosystems. We want to work with these industries to help facilitate the implementation of more sustainable systems, so that profit no longer comes at the cost of the planet.

Community Engagement and Education

Community involvement is at the heart of our work: without the energy and enthusiasm of the local people, our group would not have formed. We wish to involve all members of the community - from children to elders - and harness our collective energy into positive action, for the River, ranging from litter picks to campaigns, ceremony and celebration. We hope to raise awareness if activities that have a seriously harmful effect on rivers, but where a small change can make a huge difference - such as buying non-biological cleaning products or using toxic pet flea treatments - so that people can take action to support a clean, healthy River.

The River Medway
Photo credit: Zofia Page

Nature-Based Solutions

It is increasingly clear that nature holds the cures to her wounds; she knows how to repair herself. We therefore feel that it is best to promote nature-based solutions through protecting existing ecosystems, but also helping facilitate further nature-rich spaces where possible. This ranges from planting the right trees in the right place around the river banks to reintroducing keystone species (such as water voles and beavers) back to the waters.

Research and Testing

To make sure that we can tackle water pollution properly, we do routine tests and surveys to see where the pollution is coming from, so that we can find the most appropriate ways of tackling the issues. Every ecosystem is unique and so it is essential that we deliver our practical action in response to the specific needs of the River, guided by
science and data, whilst also listening to nature.


In ancient times, it was normal for people to act and serve as guardians of the earth. It was acknowledged that the earth’s ecosystems provide us with everything and so, in return, nature was respected and treated with love. We would like to implement a Guardian system to revive that sense of respect, but also tender care for the Medway. This might involve individual litter picks, investigating the plants and wildlife for signs of pollution, and/or simply giving the river some love and attention! We also think it is really important to come together to celebrate when things go well, and to share water ceremonies, song and creativity in honour of the River.
The River Medway
Photo credit: Dan Leak


Our Sacred work is guided by the intention to seek, in friendship, connection to the energy of the River Medway — to both listen and to remember the deep wisdom that flows within her waters so that we might be informed by them and respond to them with our guardianship and loving care.

The ancient peoples of these lands once had a vibrant relationship with the river and to them water was not only life but was also alive - they revered the river as a sacred being flowing in a living and sacred landscape.

These communities lived in far greater unity with each other and with the natural world around them than our communities of today – seeing all human life as being within a greater unity of the living body of their world. Everything had a place in the destiny of all and nothing could exist without everything else. They understood that how we treat something outside of our own self is indicative of how we treat ourselves and our loved ones.

All water sites, whether natural springs, lakes or rivers were held in loving sacredness and gratitude by the people, and they were tended and celebrated throughout the solar year in ceremony and in festival.

In our modern world, until recently, water, like so much of the living body of the earth, has come to be regarded as just another resource separate from our own selves to be used at will and available on tap. We have become disconnected from the source and the flow of these water bodies and have moved into an overall separateness from our living environment.

Now as we all begin to realise how our own and previous generations actions have affected the waters of the planet and the waters within our own community, we can feel within ourselves an inner urging to take action. Friends of the River Medway has come into being in response to this growing feeling and we seek to both support and enable all those who wish to return to loving care and guardianship of the great treasure that is this magnificent body of water.

Understanding that there has not been an environment that supports this in our modern culture, we seek to remember and revive the ancient ways in which humans interacted, listened and gave thanks in celebration of the waters, and recognise that there is a deep need within many to return to the loving guardianship, honouring and recognition of our waterways. We seek to reinstate these ways as the norm, nurturing a relationship based on connection, reverence and gratitude.
The River Medway
Photo credit: Dan Leak

Ceremony & Festivals

Through gentle ceremony and practice, we offer a place where individuals can learn how to listen, remember, and connect to the waters. These ceremonies are also a space for people to delve into their unique gifts, discovering how these can be brought forward into the world as a means of service, support and healing.

Creative Expression

We offer and encourage a place to share personal interactions and experiences with the waters through creative expression. This may include written word, art, film, music or any other medium that celebrates the sacred essence of rivers.

Demonstrations and Workshops

We offer demonstrations and workshops to facilitate connection with the waters, but also greater understanding of how our own energy and consciousness can work for the betterment of rivers and the natural environment.


In line with the traditions of our ancestors, we will organise festivals that celebrate and honour different water sites. These celebrations are intended to invoke joy, gratitude and a deeper relationship with the sacred waters.

Sacred Inclusion

We invite everyone who has a feeling, a calling, or a connection to the sacredness of the waters of the River Medway to participate in service and connection to the Waters regardless of background, faith, age, or ability. We seek to support everyone to find what it is that sparks the sacred within them, what sparks loving awareness, and what inspires loving care for our waters and our planet, as it is each of our unique abilities that will manifest real and effective change. In this, we offer a focal point of warm inclusion where all, including the quiet, retiring, solitary and those who work in the ‘quiet ways’, can be an integral part of our work through intention, prayer and practice.

The River Medway
Photo credit: Dan Leak
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