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Celebrating the people keeping North East Lincolnshire clean

11:00 am, Friday, 17th May 2024 - 2 months ago

Environment and community safety

Keeping North East Lincolnshire clean is something everyone is responsible for, but some residents go above and beyond.

Whether they are floating up and down the River Freshney in a canoe, traversing the North Sea Wall with a trailer or taking their dog litter picking, there are plenty of unique and wonderful eco warriors.

Frank Sparkes – The North Wall Cleaner

Frank has spent 26 years cleaning the North Wall with his trailer and litter picker, trying his best to help the environment and local community.

Speaking about his crusade, he said: “I have been litter picking along the North Sea Wall and Grimsby as a whole for over 25 years now. I started with a litter picker and bag before eventually getting a trailer to get rid of some of the waste that couldn’t be put in a bag.

“Since then, I’ve been buying skips and a bigger trailer to get rid of it all, I just love helping people.” He added: “I can’t go passed a piece of litter and leave it.

“I’ll never stop doing what I’m doing either. It helps the community, the wildlife and stops the spread of germs by cleaning up the litter.

“It’s not right that people leave their rubbish, it upsets me when I see it to be honest. However, I do feel I’ve made a difference over the years, I’m picking up less and less litter along the sea wall especially.”

James Elliott – The Canoe River Cleaner

Now known as The Canoe River Cleaner, James started his litter picking during the pandemic whilst on furlough.

Having just bought a canoe, he decided to jump in the River Freshney and collect large items that were too heavy to pull out or too far in the river to collect by hand.

“I started doing it when I had some spare time but soon realised it needed constant attention. After that, the rest is history.”

Now in his fourth year, James feels he’s made quite the difference to himself as well as the environment. “I hope I’ve worked hard enough to make people think positively about their waterways and to make them look after their local environment.

“Doing this has also helped me though. It lets me relax and allows me to be immersed in nature.” With things going so well, James has no intention of stopping.

“I’ll keep doing what I’m doing with the help of those that volunteer with me, the Freshney Comrades. Any free time we have will be spent making a difference and cleaning up our area.”

Zac Robinson – PickWalks

Zac and 3-year-old Labrador Ellie have been regularly litter picking since she was a puppy. Picking up all sorts of litter in her mouth, Zac became worried about Ellie and his fears were realised when she bit into a bottle of superglue which exploded in her mouth.

From then on, the two have been collecting litter whenever they can. “There came a point when Ellie wasn’t picking things up in her mouth, but I knew other dogs would and that litter could harm the local wildlife so we kept going.

“Once you notice how bad the issue is it’s hard to stop picking it up. What we do benefits the residents and the animals that live in the borough and we won’t stop doing it, it makes sense to help.”

Zac also focuses on what is becoming known as vintage litter, which is rubbish that has stood the test of time. “I started finding things that were over 10 years old and they weren’t buried in the ground, just sat on the surface and in bushes.

“It’s interesting to find these things, but it just shows how important it is not to litter.”

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