A CONCERT for Friends of the Dart has raised £700 towards the group’s efforts to improve the water quality of the river.

The Lost Sound Dartmoor Folk Choir’s Benefit Concert at Dartmouth’s St Petrox Church secured the group’s first funds to expand its water testing programme, towards weekly and all year round testing.

A spokesperson for the group said: “This crucial step will allow Friends of the Dart in their ongoing mission to protect the Dart and improve water quality, thanks to our strong collaborative partnerships with local communities and partner organisations like Dartmouth Harbour Au-thority, South West Water, The Environment Agency and Defra.

“Our vision is to establish the Dart as a vibrant community river, cherished for and by all for its diverse uses, including agriculture, business, and a wide range of leisure activities like swimming, fishing, water sports, and watching the wildlife that depends on it for its health and existence.

“A key to this is to decrease the number of sewage outflows into the Dart, which amounted to over 9,700 hours in 2022 according to The Rivers Trust.”

Around 130 people attended at the St Petrox Church benefit concert, where the 40-strong The Lost Sound choir sang a variety of unaccompanied folk songs celebrating old country customs and the river and sea’s enduring connections to communities.

The Friends of the Dart spokesperson added: “The passion and dedication of the choir echoed throughout the church, captivating the audience who respond-ed with a heartfelt standing ovation. Described as “absolutely magical”, the concert was an unforgettable experience that underscored the significance of preserving the River Dart’s natural beauty and heritage.”

Friends of the Dart is open to new members and is currently surveying local users of the River Dart.

Their website mission states: “We exist as an advocate for the River Dart.As a grass roots community group, we are working to Improve water quality and protect the Dart through effective collaboration and part-nership. We inform and inspire our community in relationship with the river. We engage positive action that benefits both our river health and ecology and the health of our community.”

Ana Simons, of the group, added: “We believe that effective collaboration, connection and information is key in remedying water quality and ecology issues on the river, and the same mind-set that created these issues over many years is not the one that can solve them.

“As a community we are coming together in collaboration with government organisations, corporations, academics and NGOs to ensure we collectively move towards long term sustainable health for our rivers with tangible and notable outcomes that enrich and revitalise both the river and our community’s connection to nature.”