Blue Peter presenter joins Peak District kids on 'toad patrol'

Blue Peter presenter Radzi Chinyanganya with Isaac, Olivia, Charlotte, Rowan and Zara. Photo: Julia Williamson.
Blue Peter presenter Radzi Chinyanganya with Isaac, Olivia, Charlotte, Rowan and Zara. Photo: Julia Williamson.

Kids in a village near Buxton are leading the way in getting close to nature and preserving the nature at an ancient mere.

Blue Peter presenter Radzi Chinyanganya and a film crew arrived in Monyash on a chilly and wet March night to find the village's children in reflective clothing, carrying buckets and torches and scooping up toads off the road.

Luca and Poppy Abrahams transfer two frogs into the Mere. Photo: Rod Leach.

Luca and Poppy Abrahams transfer two frogs into the Mere. Photo: Rod Leach.

Radzi said: “Despite the cold weather persisting into the spawning period for these amphibians we had a successful time with the children. We were pleased to present the famous Blue Peter badge to the youngsters”

The programme also awards a special green badge which was launched in 1988 for letters and pictures about children’s contribution to environmental work.

Simon Corble, who with his wife Judy and daughter Rowan, aged 12, instituted the toad rescue four years ago.

The dozens of dead toads, including heavily pregnant females were a common sight on the village’s crossroads killed by cars on the busy commuter routes during the amphibians spawning migration to the Mere.

Simon Corble puts up the road warning signs with daughter Rowan, centre, and'friend Zara Williamson, both 12, who are out every night during March and April. Photo: Rod Leach.

Simon Corble puts up the road warning signs with daughter Rowan, centre, and'friend Zara Williamson, both 12, who are out every night during March and April. Photo: Rod Leach.

Now Simon can expect many local children, their parents, and supporters to travel from as far as Bakewell and surrounding villages to help round up the hopping night-time invasion and take them to the safety of the Mere .

Simon said: “Fere Mere, as it is properly known, is a rarity today. It has survived the rural developments as the last one remaining of five in the locality.

"Being on limestone, rain water soon disappears underground in the White Peak but here we have glacial deposits of clay which trap the water. Frogs and two varieties newt, including the endangered greater crested also leave their winter hole-ups to spawn in the Mere.

"This year has been unusual because the cold March winds delayed the rush until conditions improved for the nocturnal migration. We would like to encourage other villages to help the amphibians get to their spawning ponds and waters safely.

Some of the rescued toads. Photo: Rod Leach.

Some of the rescued toads. Photo: Rod Leach.

"The signs we put out warn motorist of the creature’s appearance in the car headlights, and the unusual sight of bucket carrying people with torches combing the verges and gutters.”

Producer Ben Franklin said: “Despite the cold night we had a very warm welcome from Simon and villagers as we filmed the youngsters finding the toads in grass verges and along the sodium lit tarmac, before transferring them to the Mere.

"The local pub also provided us with a chance to warm up, when the filming was complete. The programme will be broadcast by CBBC on Thursday April 26 as part of Blue Peters output.”

Bakewell resident Dan Abrahams took along his two children, Poppy, 12, and Luca, 9, to a night at the Mere rescue and in one bucket load they transferred 55 male and female toads to the water.

Charlotte Barry, 11, right, and Zara Williamson, transferring rescued toads to the'mere. Photo: Rod Leach.

Charlotte Barry, 11, right, and Zara Williamson, transferring rescued toads to the'mere. Photo: Rod Leach.

He said: "It is such fun to watch the children getting excited when they find them and they don’t seem to mind gently handling the amphibians - they aren’t at all slimy."

This year the street patrol helpers, young and older, have a provisional total of over 3,000 rescued toads with a few newts and frogs.

Simon added: "We would like to say a big thank you to anyone who has helped us directly and to all who have taken heed of our signs and driven slowly through the village to keep our toads safe."

Fere Mere in Monyash. Photo: Rod Leach.

Fere Mere in Monyash. Photo: Rod Leach.