South East Rivers Trust (& the Wandle Trust)

Welcome to the team!

We would like to introduce three new starters to the SERT team.

Melanie Sanders and Tom Harrisson are our new Catchment Officers in the Catchment Team. Melanie will be covering the Mole and Cuckmere catchments, and Tom the Medway and North Kent catchments.

Gloria Francalanci joins us as Manager of the Preventing Plastic Pollution project in the Medway catchment.

Mel – Catchment Officer for the Mole and Cuckmere

Melanie has recently joined us from Staffordshire Wildlife Trust where she has been working as a Living Floodplains Officer. Her main responsibility was to deliver river and floodplain restoration projects across the catchment of the River Trent in order to increase connectivity, and reinstate processes that would occur along a river under natural conditions. These projects included bank re-profiling, backwater creation, palaeo-channel excavation, and habitat enhancement.

Prior to this, Melanie worked in environmental consultancy as a GIS consultant creating ecological and hydrological maps. She recently completed a masters in Aquatic Science at UCL where she focused her studies on the benefits that beavers bring to freshwater environments, in particular the aquatic – terrestrial links they create and the impact they have on food chains. She undertook her fieldwork on the Bamff Estate in Scotland which is part of the Tay catchment, where beavers roam free.

Having previously lived in the south east, Melanie is looking forward to being back in the south developing and delivering projects with her catchment partnerships.

Tom – Medway and North Kent Catchment Officer

Tom has already had some (COVID secure!) site visits to some of the Medway’s tributaries (the River Beult, the Middle Medway and the Upper Medway) to have some of SERT’s Natural Flood Management (NFM) measures handed over.

Tom has joined us after completing an MSc in Environmental Technology at Imperial College London. He specialised in Integrated Water Management and carried out a research project on the role of community participation in managing flood risk in England.

Since completing his masters, Tom has worked as a contractor for Thames 21, planting trees in Trent Park in Enfield as part of Enfield Council’s Natural Flood Management project. Tom has also volunteered in Greenwich, working on wetland management and river bank erosion protection, at Greenwich Ecological Park and Greenwich Yacht Club respectively.

Before undertaking his masters, Tom worked as a geography teacher in Bromley for three years, where he ran trips to East London, Wales and Kashmir! He has also worked in research and communications.

Tom has had many adventures along rivers, canoeing along the River Wye, cycling along the Rhine and trekking along tributaries of the Indus. He is looking forward to the adventures that await him with the South East Rivers Trust and is excited to engage with local communities to improve river ecology and manage flood risk.

Gloria – Preventing Plastic Pollution Project Manager

Gloria joined SERT in December to manage the exciting Preventing Plastic Pollution project. This is an interregional England-France EU-funded project (€9.9M ERDF) that aims at tackling plastic pollution in rivers and coastal areas by understanding its sources. Working in partnership with 18 organisations in the south of England and northern France, the project applies a catchment based approach involving local communities and organisations on the Medway, and testing different technologies and engagement strategies.

Prior to this role Gloria gathered extensive experience in environmental education, community engagement, communication and project management. Previous employers include the waste management giant Veolia as well as community-based charities ecoActive and Westway Trust.

A Londoner for almost 10 years, Gloria completed her studies in her hometown Florence (Italy) with a Master’s in Politics of the Environment spending a year at UCL  too. Safeguarding the environment is one of her biggest passions that pushed her not only to build a career in sustainability, but also to volunteer her time for FoodCycle, take part in networking events for like-minded people as well as learning some gardening skills.

We’re very excited to welcome Mel, Tom and Gloria to the SERT team and look forward to working alongside them to deliver some amazing projects.