Retired duo visit Didcot sewage works in Bucket List challenge

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Two retirees visit Didcot as part of Bucket List challenge

VISIT: Martin Connolly, Rachael Followell-Mattin and Tom Young from Thames Water, and Brendon Sparks at Didcot Sewage Treatment Works during the tour

Two pensioners visited Didcot Sewage Treatment Works in their latest effort to stave off boredom in their retirement.

Brendon Sparks, 71, and Martin Connolly, 73, from Hertfordshire, visited the Thames Water site as part of a bucket list of things to do following their retirement.

Their bucket list has taken them around the south of England and across the whole of London, plus trips to Toulouse and Germany, and the latest stop was at the sewage treatment works on the outskirts in Didcot.

During their visit, the pair were shown around the plant by Rachael Followell-Mattin, customer and stakeholder manager, Tom Young, site performance manager and Deena McKinney, education advisor, and learnt how Thames treats its sewage and returns it safely to the environment, and the constant battle against fatbergs clogging up the system.

Brendon said: “Although we are cousins, we have also always been friends and one day we just got talking about how we wanted to do something a bit off the wall to keep us ticking over.

“One of the things we wanted to look at a bit more was utility companies, and how they provide their services because it’s obviously very important.

“The tour was very informative, on how Thames Water operates and how it treats sewage and waste water, and how much investment it makes to treat water, and the revenue it needs to keep the plants going.”

So, what were the stand-out memories of the visit?

“It was actually the lack of smell,” Brendon said.

“We expected the plant to absolutely stink, but it was relatively odour free, which was very surprising.

“The other thing was the amount of hard work that goes into keeping the sewage network clear and flowing, and the nightmare that is fatbergs and wet wipes.

“We were aware of it before, but not of the scale of the problem, so that was very insightful.

“It was an excellent visit, it was very informative. We were gobsmacked at the number of people who came with us on the tour and took time out of their day and I just want to say thank you to them, we are very grateful and it made the tour even better.”

Rachael Followell-Mattin, customer and stakeholder manager at Thames Water, joined Brendon and Martin on their tour, and said: “They were really interested in how we work at the site, our responsibilities and issues we have. They will now become ambassadors telling other people of their trip and how others can help us to keep our sewers free of blockages.”

Now, the duo will continue to tick off items on their Bucket List, including a visit to the Stock Exchange, plus a tour of the old Post Office underground railway line in London.