Southern Plant & Tool Hire have teamed up with the Toad Patrol to help Henley’s toads cross the road.
Each evening, an army of frogs, toads and newts has been braving the busy A4155 between Henley and Marlow — an annual occurrence that begins with the warmer weather. The Toad Patrol team, a group of volunteers, have been carrying the amphibians to safety for over three decades, only this year, they’ve had an equipment upgrade!
Thanks to the generosity of Southern Plant the toad rescue team now have flashing lights and high visibility jackets to add to the two large reflective banners, head torches, and buckets for transporting the toads that were donated last year by Screaming Frog and Peppard Building Supplies.
The new gear was the result of Toad Patroller Nicola Taylor’s appeal on social media. “This is only my third year doing this,” she said, “and one thing I’ve noticed is that cars don’t really slow down. A lot of them don’t seem to be aware that we’re here, bearing in mind that the patrol has been here for 30 years. On the road, if you’re bending down trying to stop the traffic, you’re wondering, have the cars actually stopped? They’re only little toads, but it’s quite a big ecological thing. If it was turtles, it’d be different. And okay, they’re a bit slimy, but they’re quite cute really.”
Concerned for the safety of both the toads and their heroes, Nicola harnessed the power of the internet to call on local businesses for support. Last year, she reached out to Screaming Frog, in Greys Road, due to the connection with the marketing agency’s branding. She admitted, “I didn’t know what to ask for, because you don’t want to be greedy. So I said, all we need is the money for the signs and some money for some batteries for the head torches. And they said yes, come in and collect it!” The large reflective banners replaced the old Toad Patrol warning signs, advising motorists to slow down for the crossing.
Peppard Building Supplies donated rechargeable head torches and buckets to the cause.
However, still troubled by the speed of passing cars this year, Nicola took to Facebook to ask for flashing lights, hoping they might slow vehicles down. Southern Plant responded within 10 minutes, and as well as the lights they gave some more high vis jackets to boot! Nicola stated, “The internet does have some really good points. In an instant, you’ve got a local community. It always has been when you think about it – it depends how people use it – but you can use it for good. We’ve got real men helping toads cross the road.”
Since the patrols restarted a fortnight ago, over 3,500 toads have made it across the road to the their spawning pond in the ground of Henley Business School. Saturday 2nd March was the busiest yet, with the Toad Patrollers collecting more than 1,700 toads, 70 frogs and a few newts. However, there will be plenty more toads that need saving over the next month, and the Toad Patrol are always looking for more volunteers. To get involved, email Patrol co-ordinator Angelina Jones on firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 01491 574195.