THEY may have been up to their knees, or further, in thick mud but the residents of Erith were delighted.

More than 50 people from across the community turned out for a clean-up of the River Thames foreshore in Erith, organised by new community group FORGE (Friends of Riverside Gardens Erith) and waterways charity Thames21.

They included police and army cadets, officers from Erith Safer Neighbourhoods team, members of FORGE, staff from Morrisons’ Erith supermarket, Erith councillor Margaret O’Neill, Bexley Council employees and residents.

They were there to tackle the rubbish dumped along the riverside walk in the town centre alongside the Riverside Gardens in Erith High Street.

But the biggest challenge was to remove rubbish dumped into the river which has become embedded in the mud flats along the foreshore and clearly visible at low tide.

Thames21 supervised the retrieval of rubbish from the mud, using a rope and a handful of willing “pullers”.

During the four-hour event, the volunteers recovered more than 50 shopping trolleys, one large DIY store trolley, more than 20 traffic cones, four bikes, two prams, a wheelchair, three tyres, and a shopping basket from the mud.

They also picked up 15 bags of rubbish from the riverside walk.

The event was such a success, another is being planned for a few weeks time, as there is still more rubbish to be pulled from the mudflats.

Organisers were delighted with the numbers and the age range of the volunteers who turned out for the clean-up, FORGE’s first community event.

FORGE, which was only set up at the end of last year to save Erith’s Riverside Gardens from redevelopment, now has more than 500 members.