A deep dive into the threats facing our rivers, the scandal that lies behind it and why it really matters. We spoke to Feargal Sharkey, former frontman of punk band The Undertones and de facto figurehead of the battle to save Britain’s rivers, author and Right to Roam activist Amy-Jane Beer and author, academic and campaigner Mark Wormald

To mark the conference Owned By Everyone? The wonder, plight and future of our chalk streams.

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Mark Wormald has been a Fellow and College Lecturer in English at Pembroke College Cambridge since 1992. He is the author of The Catch: Fishing for Ted Hughes (Bloomsbury Books, 2022), has co-edited two collections of essays on Ted Hughes, and is Chair of the Ted Hughes Society.  With the Cambridge Conservation Initiative and WildFish Conservation he is the organiser of ‘Owned by Everyone?’ The wonder, plight and future of our chalk streams’, a Cambridge conference held on 30-31 March 2023. A previous conference, ‘Owned by Everyone: the science, poetry and plight of the salmon’ took place in December 2012, also at the CCI, and led to the reassessment of global populations of Atlantic salmon by the IUCN.

Amy in Glen Feshie

Dr Amy-Jane Beer is a biologist, naturalist, writer and campaigner for nature and access to it. She is a columnist for British Wildlife, Country Diarist for The Guardian, and her most recent book, The Flow: rivers, water and wildness, explores themes of nature and connection. She is a member of the core organising team of Right to Roam.



Feargal Sharkey, former lead singer of the Undertones and a successful solo artist throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s, is now known for his heroic efforts in taking on the water companies and Environment Agency as the de facto figurehead of the battle to save Britain’s rivers. He is a keen fly fisherman and Chairman of the Amwell Magna Fishery.

Additional links:

The writers’ and film makers’ panel at ‘Owned by Everyone?’ is open to the public; the Cambridge Festival on 30th March, 7:15pm. Book your space here.

Hashtags to follow the conference on social media are #ChalkStreams and #CamChalkTalk.

Watch this conversation with Mark Wormald and Robert Macfarlane about The Catch, Hughes, environmentalism and poetry.

Find our more about WildFish, co-organisers of ‘Owned By Everyone? The wonder, plight and future of our chalk streams.’