Volvo visit proves fascinating for so many.

PUBLISHED: 10:41 05 August 2009 | UPDATED: 14:46 09 April 2010

LAST Thursday afternoon, the Volvo ECO Challenge team came to Exe Sailing Club to treat a group of enthusiastic youngsters to an afternoon of environmental fun, with a serious message, writes Mike Rice.

LAST Thursday afternoon, the Volvo ECO Challenge team came to Exe Sailing Club to treat a group of enthusiastic youngsters to an afternoon of environmental fun, with a serious message, writes Mike Rice.

The ECO Challenge is a great opportunity for young sailors to get actively involved with an environmental project for their club.

In 2008, the 120 younger members of Exe SC (aged 6-12) got together to work on a wide- ranging project which looked at many ways to improve the club's environment, including recycling bins, litter collection, energy saving schemes and water waste reduction.

The project was one of the winners, and landed the club a £650 grant from the Volvo company.

The visit, headed by TV presenter and wildlife photographer Chris Packham, was part of the continuing campaign to encourage environmental projects and raise awareness of the many issues.

The first of the afternoon's activities was a team "audit" of the club's environment. Groups of eagle-eyed youngsters prowled the clubhouse and dinghy park making lists of things that could be improved.

Top of most lists was the use of fresh water to wash members' boats, giving rise to a possible project to find ways of collecting and using rain water.

A colouring competition and a kite building and flying session kept everyone busy until the tide had receded enough for the next stage - a nature hunt along the foreshore.

Nature expert Chris Packham was on hand to help identify and repatriate the various tiny sea creatures brought to him by the young "hunters" from the tide-stranded pools.

After tea in the clubhouse, Chris Packham showed a spellbound audience some of his pictures of larger creatures, taken all over the world.

The showstopper had to be the literally jaw-dropping close-up of a crocodile - taken by his daughter!

Packham expertly fielded a barrage of questions from his young audience, many of whom were obviously fascinated by the size and sharpness of the huge variety of teeth and claws they had just seen.

The winners of the colouring competition, judged by Chris Packham, were William and James Waddington and Lucy Rowsell, with Beth Ford earning a special mention for her colourful, abstract approach to the task.

After the kids had been taken home, Chris Packham stayed on to deliver a thought-provoking talk to adult members of the club.

Exe SC Commodore Frankie Upton, thanking Packham and the team for coming to the club, said: "we are looking forward to putting some of these ideas into practice over the coming months in our next Eco project. We've achieved a lot already here at Exe SC this year with a well-motivated team, building and improving on what came before and your points remind us not to let up on that pace and to consider, along with all the other priorities, what we can do in terms of our environmental impact."

If you would like to know more about the ECO Challenge, it is all on the website at www.volvocars.com/uk/sailing/Sponsorship-Programme/EcoChallenge.

Also, Exe SC will be running a stand at the Spirit of the Exe Festival on Saturday August 8 between 11am and 5pm at the Maer in Exmouth, so come and see us there.

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