Why I'm in Awe of Surfers Against Sewage


Bless childhood. I remember those innocent days like they were only yesterday. I didn't have a care in the World beyond playing with my mates, swapping Panini stickers and getting utterly covered in grime.

My mates and I would toddle off round the neighbourhood on our BMX's all summer armed with water balloons and dreams of the next great hose fight. When it got really hot one of our mums would take us to the beach where we would while away the time building sandcastles, playing in the sea, catching crabs and human faeces. Excuse me? What was that? Faeces? Why I was enjoying that reverie you little scamp. Why did you have to bring faeces into it? Why indeed?

Britain in the 80's
Britain in the 80's was not the gilded chrome panelled; your town is my town identikit Britain of today. It was far more hot potched, ram shackle and litter strewn. You were far more likely to have an independent greengrocers, butchers and candle stick makers than a Tesco's Metro on the corner and I for one thought it was all the better for it (well apart from the litter).

But there is one thing I don't miss. You see call me Arthur Von Hygiene Von Ticklebottom but I don't miss the daily gauntlet of dodging human excrement, tampons and other such desirables each and every time I went for a swim in the sea. It was with good reason that Britain was known as the dirty man of Europe back in those days.

The Advent of Surfers Against Sewage
It was from such a backdrop of human progress that Surfers Against Sewage formed in 1990 with the all-encompassing aim of 'giving the polluters and water companies a ruddy big black eye' (I paraphrase of course but I'm pretty sure that was the gist of it). Ever since then these bastions of decency have campaigned against water companies, industry and government to stop filling the sea with toxic chemicals, sewage effluents and nuclear waste.

You see you'd be forgiven for thinking that maybe, just maybe, the long history of Britain had bred a people capable of comprehending that such materials didn't belong in the sea, that perhaps the marine environment from which we draw so much pleasure, food and such like, was not the ideal dumping ground for the kind of toxins most Jihadist groups would love to get their hands on. Alas no.

Instead it fell to a disparate group of surfers, marine conservationists and people who just liked to walk their dogs on the beaches without the need for radiation body suits and boots to form an organisation that would hold the powers that be to account. Through their hard campaigning and tireless endeavours to raise awareness about the damage to the marine environment and our own health Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) have managed to clean up huge swathes of the British coast and restore many to their former glory.

All this is done through the hard work and dedication of countless volunteers and is testament to the continuing good that well organised N.G.O's can do when political inertia and the powers of big business lobbyists are the status quo.

Whilst much has been done there is still a lot of work to do. UK water companies continue to discharge raw sewage into rivers under the guise of combined sewer overflows. Marine litter remains a constant problem as does the transport of highly toxic chemicals across the seas. But thanks to SAS at least there is one organisation you can put your faith in and support to get things done. After all not every childhood should be scared by the memory of catching something less desirable than crabs in their crab net.

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