It’s VIRTUALly Thurrock SOUP!

Yes its nearly that time of the year! No not Halloween-it’s Thurrock SOUP time!

Due to current restrictions, we have decided to hold a Zoom SOUP.

Everyone is invited to take part and help to vote for the next great idea!

If you have a great idea, but done know where to go next-the answer is SOUP.

Take part and tell us all your idea, whoever gets the most votes at the end will win the £250 prize plus access to further funding and lots of free business start-up support. Tell all of your family and friends to register as well, more friends=more votes.

As its on Zoom, you dont have to dress up although Halloween Costumes are welcome.

Please register free on: and we will send you the link to join.

Cooking with Grays

Whilst delivering food to many of the refuges and hostels across Grays, it has been mentioned to me a number of times that they don’t want or need food that needs to be cooked as ‘they don’t like to cook’!

Whilst delivering food to a homeless women and children’s unit recently, I started talking about food and cooking with some of the residents, who promptly asked whether I would teach them to cook some simple recipes, after about a minute’s consideration-I said Yes!

Morrisons in Grays have been donating food to me for donation on to these hostels among other beneficiaries, so I wanted to include them. I have been working closely with Tarnya Bennett-Morrisons Community Champion for Grays (see picture) and she was happy to be involved in this project, even offering to buy most of the ingredients and print off the recipes.

I also had a conversation with a former colleague-Graeme Collie Head of Commercial Catering at South Essex College (SEC) and he was also very keen to be part of this project.

Week 1 of the project was about some basic ideas and I took a small group of ladies through making a basic tomato pasta sauce, then showing them one of the uses as we turned it into a cheesy pasta bake (pictured below). We discussed alternative ingredients and uses for the pasta sauce including how you could disguise vegetables in the sauce for fussy eaters.

They have requested that I show them how to make Carrot Cake Cupcakes for Week 2. I am looking forward to it. SEC will take over from me as cookery teacher after Wk 2 and I know that they have some exciting ideas to teach everyone.

Litter Pick at Falcon Wood

A small team of Riverside Community Big Local volunteers spent Sunday morning picking litter from the piece of land along Bridge Road known as Falconwood.

Working with local residents and organisations the Big Local plans to create a Pocket Park on this previously un-cared for land.

As part of these plans the Big Local thinned out some of the dead and dangerous trees and started to level off the land. The levelling off revealed a large amount of rubbish that had been buried for many years.

In all volunteers collected 24 sacks of cans, bottles and other rubbish – as well as a number of larger items of rubbish.

Chair of the Riverside Community Big Local, Andy Blakey, said;

“Falconwood is a hidden gem and we plan to work with residents to make it a really pleasant place for people to enjoy. It time, we will look to put some appropriate seating and other amenities but – for now – the efforts of volunteers on Sunday has made to the area that bit nicer to look at and walk through.

“Thanks to Steve, Anton, Jacqueline and John for giving their time and to Thurrock Council for disposing of the rubbish collected.”

Orchard Forum cleaning alleys

Volunteers from the Orchards Community Forum were out again on Saturday morning tidying up alleyways around the Grove Road area, in Grays.

Chair of the Orchards Forum, Tina Holland, said; 

“18 months ago it would have taken many people half a day to clear these alleyways. Now we managed to tidy them in a couple of hours – we know they are far from perfect but the improvement is clear to see.

“We really can’t allow these alleyways to fall back into the state they were last year. That’s why we will continue spend a couple of hours, once a month, to make sure we keep on top of them.”

Details of alley cleans can be found on the Orchards Forum Facebook page.

Chair of the Riverside Community Big Local, Andy Blakey, said;

“I want to thank Tina and all the Orchards Forum volunteers for their hard work in keeping these alleys as clear as possible. They really are making a difference to their local community. Thanks as well to Thurrock Council for helping by disposing of the rubbish collected.

BeacherCombers cleaning up Grays Beach

On Sunday morning, around 20, Grays Beachcomber volunteers spent a couple of hours in the sun collecting waste plastic and other rubbish from along the river front in Grays.

They collected 26 sacks of rubbish which included over 220 single use plastic bottles that would otherwise have been washed back into the Thames.

This Sunday, they also collected a number of empty drinks cans that will be used to help create an art installation known as a “Mandala,” as part of this year’s T100 festival.

After the volunteers finished their hard work they were treated to a well deserved bacon sandwich and a drink at the Lightship Cafe – the cafe in Grays Beach Park.

Chair of the Riverside Community Big Local, Andy Blakey, said;

“Around the world eight million tonnes of waste plastic make their way into our seas and rivers. Those plastics break down and end up being consumed by fish – much of which we eat.

“The work of the Grays Beachcombers is one small way of raising the profile of this issue as well as helping improve our local environment. I want to thank every one of them for their hard work and the Riverside Community Big Local is pleased to make sure they all get something to eat and drink afterwards.”

The Grays Beachcombers meet on the first Sunday of the month, 10.30 outside Thurrock Yacht Club.

Trees for the Community

Many plants were donated to the Neil Ruch memorial space at Hogg Lane Ambulance Station and some people had kindly donated trees which would unfortunately grow too large for the available space.

When we were planting up the new garden area, I noticed that there were several birch trees in a number of pots which I suggested would not be suitable for the raised beds. I then spotted a young horse chestnut which could grow up to 75’ and even an oak tree which could reach over 100’.

These obviously would not be suitable to grow amidst the lavender and buddleia which we were planting to give paramedics a peaceful and relaxing space to use whilst at work.

This story has a happy ending, the ambulance station have kindly donated the trees to ‘Green up Grays’, a Riverside Community project and they were collected by RCBL board member Jim Graham who also works on ‘Friends of Elm Road Open Space’ and they will be planted with permission of Thurrock Council.

Ambulance Station Memorial Garden

From this to this 


When local paramedic Neil Ruch sadly died from Covid 19 in May, his colleagues wanted to create a memorial garden for him.

Riverside Community heard about this and offered to help. Local construction companies came forward to help to create an area at the rear of the Hogg Lane ambulance station, including a patio and some raised beds.

All they needed now was some plants……and some know-how!

Just 3 hours and a dozen volunteers later and a Caribbean island had been created, the perfect place for paramedics to relax in between calls. Ok, the fantastic mural was created sometime earlier but the rest was completed in that short time.

Riverside Community Big Local working with Smiths Orchard Garden Centre have provided the compost, topsoil and all of the plants to complete the planned sensory and wildlife-friendly area which is being completed with bird table and feeders.

The paramedics have worked out a watering rota to keep the garden looking its best, although I don’t think even the rain would spoil this lovely sunny garden spot.

Next clean up at Grays Beach Sunday 8th November 10:30

Dolly is bagging another bottle. Even Storm Francis couldn’t dampen her enthusiasm last Tuesday.

Dolly is 6 years old and is very keen to clear up the rubbish around the Thames as she has learnt about it at school. 

She loved the day with all of the volunteers, making friends with everyone. Her big sister said her favourite find was the “wand” which was actually a weird looking fork haha!

Together with a little help from the other volunteers, Dolly filled 31 sacks including 223 single use plastic bottles.

Steve Catchpole said “I am looking forward to seeing Dolly and all the other volunteers at a future event very soon.”

Future events:

Saturday 26th September – Friends of North Thames Estuary – meeting at the Tilbury Fort, Tilbury RM18 7NR – 10:30 to 13:30. If you have your own equipment, picker, hoop, gloves, face mask and sturdy walking shoes, please bring them. We will be walking at least 3 miles collecting river rubbish along the foreshore – Limited facilities available – 8 places available.

Sunday 4th October – Friends of Grays Beachcombers – meeting at Thurrock Yacht Club, Grays RM17 6JF at 10:30 until 12:00. Foreshore tidy. If you have your own equipment, picker, hoop, gloves and face mask please also bring along sanitising hand wash. – Limited facilities are available – FULLY BOOKED.

Sunday 8th November – Friends of Grays Beachcombers – meeting at Thurrock Yacht Club, Grays RM17 6JF at 10:30 until 12:00. Foreshore tidy. If you have your own equipment, picker, hoop, gloves and face mask please also bring along sanitising hand wash. – Limited facilities are available – Only 6 places available. Please note the alternative date.

Sunday 6th December – Friends of Grays Beachcombers – meeting at Thurrock Yacht Club, Grays RM17 6JF at 10:30 until 12:00. Foreshore tidy. If you have your own equipment, picker, hoop, gloves and face mask please also bring along sanitising hand wash. – Limited facilities are available – 14 places available.

During these strange times pre-booking is critical. Do not attend unless I have confirmed your places.

To book a place please email Steve Catchpole at