Eden Rivers Trust has announced that Bob Bradney is this year’s recipient of its Ploughlands Legacy Award, which recognises the significant contribution made by an individual or group to the conservation of the rivers and lakes of the Eden catchment.
Bob has looked after Eden’s rivers ever since he first became associated with the area 65 years ago.
He moved here because of the river, having fallen in love with the Eden and Eamont on fishing trips made when he was a young man.
He is a lifetime member of the Yorkshire Fly Fishing Club, and his conservation activities have focused on stopping pollution from agricultural and wastewater treatment plants and preventing excessive abstraction of water.
Dave Haig, a fishing colleague, said: “Bob’s never been afraid to take on the big guns who run the local wastewater plants or industries, if he felt they needed to change their ways — indeed anyone causing pollution. He knows his subject thoroughly, and always gains the respect and admiration of his adversaries.
“He questions with quiet confidence and consummate ease and in a very polished, articulate manner. On top of that he’s a thoroughly nice, genuine bloke.”
One of Bob’s proudest achievements was the success of his campaign to upgrade the sewage system in Penrith.
Throughout the 1990s there was growing concern about pollution from wastewater entering the Eamont and the poor state of a pipe bridge over the river at Frenchfield.
The pipe burst in 2006, pouring raw sewage into the river, and Bob led legal efforts to force the polluters to pay compensation for the damage.
Despite the loss of the court case, he went on to gain considerable public support through extensive media coverage.
As a result, the water company eventually agreed to renovate the town’s sewage system.
Now 89 years old, Bob still puts in a huge amount of time working to keep his beloved Eden free from pollution.
Charles Ecroyd, chairman of Eden Rivers Trust said: “Bob has worked tirelessly for the preservation and promotion of the Eden and its tributaries for many years.
“His polite, intelligent, articulate and tenacious approach when trying to find solutions to pollution problems is well respected by all parties, as is his thorough knowledge of the river.
“We thank Bob for all he has done and continues to do for Eden’s rivers. He is a worthy winner of the Ploughlands Legacy Award.”
Bob added: “I am most grateful for this prestigious award, but we still have much to do.
“We are fortunate to have Eden Rivers Trust who work so hard to continue to conserve our rivers in the catchment.”