Living a Breathing the River

By Melanie Gaigher

About Me

Hi, my name is Melanie Gaigher. I am a qualified Occupational Therapist and I live on a narrowboat.

Working in healthcare, I am never going to be able to afford a property of my own with the sort of green spaces I need for my health, happiness and general wellbeing. That’s why I took a leap of faith, bought a boat, took to the water and I am so pleased I did. It’s one of the best life decisions I have ever made. Every morning I wake up to peace and tranquillity in the most beautiful natural surroundings. You could earn a six figure sum and still not get to enjoy half of what I experience on a daily basis.

This is why I am so passionate about the Saving Our Stort (SOS) campaign. The Stort is my river, Harlow is my town and it’s residents are my people. Having done a fair amount of travelling on the waterways, I can hand on heart say that our Stort honestly rivals some of the very best bits of The Grand Union. In exactly the same way as this stretch of river has become my oasis of peace, the same could be said for plenty of Harlow residents. This incredible stretch of river is treasured by so many people, ramblers, joggers, cyclists, canoeists, fishermen and boaters who call it home.

The river crossing threatens all that by permanently altering the landscape. Yet another green space is just slightly out of reach for Harlow residents. It is one thing for the developers to commit to mitigating environmental damages elsewhere, but it completely ignores the fact that this green space could ultimately be deleted. Furthermore, while construction takes place, the area will be in turmoil for years. As far as I am concerned, Harlow residents deserve so much better. Harlow and Gilston Garden Town (HGGT) need transport access, but there are alternatives to this crossing that require serious consideration.

The Stort will always be my refuge and the place I call home. Knowing that this stunning stretch of river could become unrecognisable in the future is nothing short of a tragedy. That is why I will continue to do my bit to oppose the crossing as I cannot imagine anything worse than losing this precious area.

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