Legion of volunteers turns out to clean-up Doncaster

It was the start of the school holidays in Doncaster.

Tuesday, 16th April 2019, 1:47 pm

Some may have thought youngsters would have been sitting down to DVDs, YouTube, or a video game session.

But not this legion of volunteers in Stainforth.

They were out early, dressed in high vis and waving litter picking sticks, after an appeal in local schools to people to help keep the town’s streets clean.

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Volunteers getting ready for the Great Stainforth Sping Clean, outside Stainforth Library

Data published in 2017 showed Doncaster topped the table of UK councils in the number of litter fines issued for littering. The local authority handed out 3,574 fines - over 700 more than Leeds – the second highest in the country.

But residents in Stainforth are fighting back.

Youngsters aged as young as three turned out as part of a group of volunteers joining up for the Great Stainforth Spring Clean, meeting up early in the morning at Stainforth Library on Church Street.

In all, around 40 people took the streets, with more than a quarter of those made up of children. Some of those turned-up after hearing a talk from volunteers from Stainforth Environmental Regeneration Volunteers, or SERV, at Kirkton Lane Primary School.

The organiser of the event, Lewis Saunderson of Stainfoth4All, a community group based at the library, said: “We collected a total of 56 bags of rubbish and fly-tipping items such as a baby’s car seat, chairs and carpets in two hours.

“I’m really pleased that so many people turned up, to do something that is probably not seen as very glamorous. It shows that people want change and to see the end of the litter problem, and it shows that there’s a lot of pride in Stainforth and that we’re good at coming together as a community.”

Lewis may not have seen it as a glamorous event, but that did not stop two beauty queens joining the proceedings.

Nadia King, aged 23, from Askern was crowned World Supermodel England in a contest in November. She had just come back from the final in Fiji after making the top 15 in the world, when she heard about the litter pick from a friend in Stainforth.

“I like doing things like this,” she said. “I work with the Marine Conservation Society to do beach cleans on the Humber coast.” She was joined by pal Chloe Scottard, aged 20, from Rossington, who is a finalist in the Miss South Yorkshire contest

Among those inspired to join the litter pick after seeing the talk at their school were brother and sister Connor Mawson, aged eight, and Jade Mawson, six.

Mum Zoe McConnell said: “They had a talk in school last Monday, and when they got home they said they wanted to join a litter pick.

Connor said: “They came to our school . We’d never been out litter picking so we thought we’d join them.”

Zoe added: “The came home and said litter was getting into the rivers and canals and killing wildlife. Even before today, they had been round near our house with some big bangs to pick up rubbish. I’m very proud of them.”

Joanne Stockell brought daughters Charley Jason, aged 10, and Grace Parkinson, aged 11, after they too had heard about the litter issue in Kirton Lane Primary School.

“They came home and asked to take part,” said Joanne. “I think its brilliant, and its great for the community.”

Abigail Bedford, aged 10, also joining the litter pick, after picking up on it on social media.

She said: “I decided to get involved because there's so much plastic out there and its killing animals. It’s important to so something about it.”

Lisa Buckton, aged 24, brought here niece to take part. She said: “We thought it was important that they saw what happens if you don’t put your rubbish in your pocket and take it home to put in the bin when you get home, and that it means people have to pick it up.”

For others, picking up litter was also about companionship. Barry Pearson, aged 63, signed up to join SERV at a time to meet people, and now takes part in litter picks every Monday and Thursday. He enjoys going and says he has made many friends from it.