Cast your vote for Welly Wanderers to inspire children

Customers at nine Tesco stores across Banstead, Epsom and Leatherhead can vote to help the South East Rivers Trust inspire children to love the River Mole and spark lifelong interest in wildlife.

The river charity’s popular education sessions set 3,700 pupils on the path to nurturing nature in the 2022-23 academic year.

Now, the programme is developing its reach by engaging schools and youth groups across the River Mole area, which stretches from Crawley through Dorking and Molesey to the River Thames.

Shoppers can help support young people learning about the wonders of river wildlife, by voting for the “Welly Wanderers – River Education” option in participating stores between the start of April to the end of June.

Children who are connected to nature are happier, healthier and more motivated to learn, the charity believes. Feedback on the curriculum linked sessions shows the power of outdoor education and the thrills experienced by the children.

One teacher said: “It was lovely to see several students who struggle to engage in a classroom setting getting really into the learning on offer outside of the classroom!”

A pupil added: “It was awesome, going in the river and seeing all the creatures that live there.”

Typically, pupils on a river dipping session might find shrimps, mayfly or damselfly nymphs or even a water hoglouse, while learning about birds such as kingfishers which thrive near water.

Polly Penn, Head of Working with Communities at the South East Rivers Trust, said: “We are delighted to have been chosen as a Tesco Stronger Starts community project because we know from our education sessions that children love the chance to visit the river. They are always inspired by being able to see for themselves the creatures they have learned about in the classroom.

Children experience a SERT education session
Children record their findings on the River Mole in a South East Rivers Trust education session

“We believe our sessions will be hugely valuable to pupils in the short term, helping them learn about the value of water and to use it wisely, as well as the long term. As we wrote in a blog about our existing education sessions on the Mole, pupils who learn outdoors develop fantastic personal skills and an increasing number of future careers will focus on climate issues. Our education programme sits perfectly within Science, Technology, English and Maths (STEM) learning and we hope shoppers will take this opportunity to support our work.”

Customer votes will decide how three chosen charities will receive awards of £500, £1,000 or £1,500.

The nine stores where customers can vote for SERT between April and the end of June 2024 are:

  • Ewell Express, KT17 1PG
  • Epsom Station Express, KT19 8EU
  • Epsom Horton Express, KT19 8SP
  • Epsom Ruxley Lane Express, KT19 9JS
  • Craddocks Ashtead Express KT21 1QJ
  • Leatherhead Oxshott Road, KT22 0EF
  • Bookham Express, KT23 4AD
  • Banstead Express, SM7 2NN
  • Epsom Fir Tree Road Express, TW14 8RX

Tesco’s Stronger Starts – previously known as Tesco Community Grants – has already provided more than £110 million to more than 60,000 projects across Britain.

Education by SERT on the River Mole
A South East Rivers Trust school session at Grattons Park on the River Mole

This £5m Stronger Starts grant programme, delivered in partnership with Groundwork UK, helps schools and children’s groups provide nutritious food and healthy activities that support young people’s physical health and mental wellbeing, such as breakfast clubs or snacks, and sports equipment for after school clubs.

Claire de Silva, Tesco UK Head of Communities and Local Media, said: “Helping schools and children’s groups access the food and resources they need is vitally important in getting children a stronger start in life. Children with enough food have more energy, better concentration, and ultimately achieve more too.”

Graham Duxbury, Groundwork’s UK Chief Executive, said: “As a community charity, we have seen first-hand how schools and other groups supporting young people have been playing a much bigger role in ensuring children are getting a healthy start to the day and getting access to spaces and services to support physical activity and mental health. Family budgets are tight and school budgets are tight, but it’s so important that children stay fed, fit and focused, so we’re delighted to be able to prioritise these activities alongside Tesco with the Stronger Starts programme.”

Funding is available to community groups and charities looking to fund local projects that bring benefits to communities, particularly those helping to provide food and giving children the support they need for a good start in life. Anyone can nominate a project and organisations can apply online. To find out more visit

  • For full details of SERT’s education opportunities for schools and youth groups and to book visit our education page.