An environmental campaign pushing for the protection and re-introduction of water voles will host a 24-hour swimathon in East Molsley next month (March 24). 

Environment Trust, an environment and heritage charity based in South West London, is asking people to donate to their Water Vole campaign to raise vital funds to reintroduce water voles back into local rivers in the area. 

To help fundraise, the  24-hour Swimathon will take place at Imber Court in East Molesey, with two teams each swimming for 12 hours.

The charity is calling on the public to support the cause and hopes to raise at least £2,000 through sponsorship of the swimmers and public donations.

In the past twenty years, the population of water voles has declined by up to two-thirds, which represents one of the most drastic declines of any wild mammal in Britain during the 20th century.

Water voles are under serious threat from habitat loss, water quality decline and predation by the non-native American mink.

Berny Simcox, CEO of Environment Trust said: "As a charity with a big focus on conservation, we want to raise money to boost the population of water voles in the local area and we’re asking people to support this worthwhile project and help us reach our target.

"The plight of the water vole is beginning to garner attention, and conservation efforts are increasing to restore and protect the habitats which are crucial for the survival of this beautiful animal."

Though reclusive, water voles are fused into the psyche of many Brits thanks to Kenneth Grahame's children's classic Wind In the Willows. One of the book's main characters is a water vole known as "Ratty".