At the annual beach clean at the Tollgate Cafe, Bembridge, are, from left, Mike Cotton, Christine Grant, Barbara Clough, Ann Walker, David Low, Mary Chappell, Barbara Blackburn, Thelma Edmunds, Robin Edmunds and Ken Willis. Picture by Jennifer Burton.
BEHIND THE NEWS ACROSS the Isle of Wight, there are people who are trying to make a real difference to the beautiful landscape many of us take for granted.
From a young age, most people are taught that dropping litter on the ground is wrong and to put it in a bin. But far too many people forget this message and continue to discard rubbish on beaches, in parks and on the street.
Several individuals and groups on the Island have turned collecting litter into a passion in a drive to clean up the Island.
Ventnor woman Wendy Marshall has been a stickler for rubbish since she moved to the Island. Most of the time it is a thankless task but Wendy does not do it for the recognition.
She said: "I love my town and take great pride in the way it looks.
"In the summer months, I am up at 5am and on the beach at Shanklin clearing it. I organise litter picks with the Ventnor Wombles volunteer group and we litter pick on the last Sunday of every month. Even when I’m out walking my dog I’m picking up litter."
Wendy, who is also a cemetery warden and a member of Age Concern’s Good Neighbour Scheme, has also taken on a new role, employed by Ventnor Town Council, to clear up dog mess in the town.
Over in Bembridge, resident Barbara Clough has been helping to keep the village clean and tidy for 22 years.
Barbara joins other members of the Bembridge and St Helens Harbour Association twice a year — in spring and autumn — for a mammoth clean up of the harbour area.
"The amount of rubbish we find and collect does vary. On one occasion, we had four skips full in Bembridge and one in St Helens. We even found a fridge that had been dumped.
"We want the harbour to look its best and the new owner, Malcolm Thorpe, fully supports that idea. The wind and the tide unfortunately bring a lot of litter into the harbour, so we also work with the Marine Conserv-ation Society."
In December, Sandown town councillors joined residents for a two-hour litter pick — collecting 18 bags of rubbish in the process.
Cllr Heather Humby, who helped organise the walk, said: "The members of the public we met seemed very pleased to see us cleaning up and we were very grateful to those who helped.
"It’s all very well sitting around a table once a month talking about what needs to be done but sometimes it’s important to get out there."
Patricia Almond, of Whitwell, has been a volunteer litter pick co-ordinator for the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) for two years.
She said: "I work with 15 organisations across the Island and organise regular litter picks on the beach, streets, cycle paths and parks. They include St Catherine’s School, scout and guide groups, Green Gym, Island Youth Water Activities Centre (IYWAC), Ventnor Rugby Club, Godshill Cadet Force, Yarmouth Town Group, Bembridge and St Helens Harbour Trust and Shanklin Green Town.
"We have kit bags, which includes grabbers, bags, gloves and high-vis tops for the groups to use. Once it’s completed, I go along and present them with a certificate and hold talks and tell them about the work of the CPRE.
"I also regularly litter pick, particularly in the Niton and Whitwell area. I keep the equipment in the car and if I see rubbish, then I’ll stop and pick it up. I also want to encourage ramblers to take bags with them to pick any litter up if they see it on their walks.
"There are jubilee celebrations taking place across the Island, as well as other events, and we want the Island looking polished.
"So my message to people really is 'stop the drop’ because so much rubbish is just discarded when it could be so easily put in a bin," she said.
Residents Ben Houfton, from Newport, and Carisbrooke councillor John Hobart regularly pick up their grabbers and head out to litter pick.
Ben said: "Many years ago I formed the Carisbrooke Society and wanted to help keep the village tidy. That’s how the idea of our litter picking started really. When we notice litter, we’ll pick it up.
"My wife, Linda, often joins us for clearances around Carisbrooke Castle, Nunnery Lane and Froglands Lane. It’s surprising how much rubbish we can collect. We usually fill at least two black bags each time."
Members and friends of the 2nd Cowes (St Mary’s) sea scouts have also done their bit for the environment by organising a litter pick.
The tidy-up took place along the cycle track next to the River Medina and involved 35 youngsters, parents and scout leaders.
During the event, they collected 21 sacks of mixed rubbish, five sacks of empty beer cans for recycling and three car tyres.
Group scout leader Simon Merritt said: "We were amazed at the large amount of litter that could be collected from less than half the length of the cycle track."
Natural Enterprise has recently launched a new initiative on the Island called Green Towns, which is about loving where you live.
Green Towns is supported by the Big Lottery Fund and is aimed at increasing neighbourly support while making Island streets safer, cleaner and greener.
Newport, Shanklin and Ventnor have already signed up to the scheme.
Martin Gibson, from Natural Enterprise, said: "We want to encourage people to join all those already out there picking up litter around their homes and helping make their streets a nicer place to be."
Green Town projects already under way on the Island include clearing an overgrown station platform, litter picks and beach-cleaning parties.
More information about Green Towns is available at www.greentowns.org.uk