Two-and-a-half years ago, Bob Barnham and his daughter Amy started feeding the ducks on the River Alre, near where they live.


By nacro

in Local News

Amy, who was born with brain damage and has complex epilepsy, is unlikely to ever work. But Bob wanted something to give her purpose, and her love of ducks provided the perfect opportunity. So everyday, they would package up bags of feed, take them down and feed the ducks and leave some behind for locals as an alternative to bread. Set up on a little camping table, with an honesty box to help buy the feed, the scheme took off.

Feeding ducks on the River Arle   

Now they are producing around 100 bags of food a week for the well cared for ducks, and Amy has got her classmates at Totton College involved.

Her classmates on the Skills for Life course will be using the opportunity for a bit of work experience and to learn about the environment and about healthy eating. Bob said: “Over lockdown, I really saw how hard the teachers at Totton work. I was thinking ‘wow’ they really want to keep these students stimulated. That’s when I thought it might be good to get them involved. It’s been great for Amy not just mentally, but physically. It gets her moving and I thought it might be a good thing for all the students to get involved in, so they all get a chance to take part in some kind of work experience. So I took the idea to Totton and they loved it. They made a whole inclusive learning idea around it, each student will have their job, and they’ll do the packages during their arts and crafts classes. They took the idea and turned it into a well rounded learning package, it’s a really wonderful thing. Even after Amy finishes her course at the college, she will be involved, helping to deliver lessons and working to keep the duck food production going. They’ve been amazing and Amy loves Totton and doing the duck food, I’m just so pleased, Bob said.

First batch of duck food from Totton College

But Totton College getting involved is just the next step in the already popular feeding programme.

‘Amy’s Duck Feeding Table’ has over 1,000 followers on Facebook and Amy and Bob have become local celebrities, along with their regular ducks. They have been awarded Wildlife awards, won Community Spirit awards and most recently the Mayor of Winchester Community Award for services to the people.

Over lockdown, many of us have turned to nature for comfort and the demand for Amy’s duck food has shown that.

Now they are responsible for feeding a whole host of feathered characters, including Beaky, who’s bill is misshapen, The Vicar, Oily who was caught in detergent and is missing a few feathers, and Chilly who’s bill is blue.

Bob said: “We do have favourites who are always there, Amy knows them, they know Amy. It’s like a children’s book, it’s amazing.”