Dai and the Morpeth Blitz group shortlisted for national award

An environmental group and one of its key organisers have been shortlisted for a national award for their dedicated work to ‘Keep Morpeth Tidy’.

Dai Richards and the Morpeth Litter Blitz group have been recognised by Keep Britain Tidy in its annual network awards, in the category of #LitterHeroes.

The #LitterHeroes Award celebrates the outstanding contribution of an individual or group that have demonstrated commitment to the local environment and reducing litter.  

The nomination has to come from a local authority, and Northumberland County Council put Mr Richards and the Morpeth group forward for their outstanding work in cleaning up the town and championing all things ‘green’.

The town had a number of litter picking and tidying initiatives, but Dai recognised that there would be benefits to a more coordinated approach and he contacted the Greater Morpeth Development Trust, The Lions Club and other voluntary groups such as the Scouts to pull together a community of volunteers.

He set up meetings with local councillors, representatives from the town and county councils and other interested parties, and a small working group started to plan and promote a series of events.  

The network soon grew and throughout the past year there has been a huge effort in the town and surrounding areas which have made a real difference.

The councils and local businesses have helped by providing litter pickers and equipment and working with Morpeth Town Council new litter bins have been installed.

There have been many picks and events throughout the year, and an excellent example was last March’s Keep Britain Tidy Great British Spring Clean, when 22 people attended and collected 82 bags of rubbish.

Mr Richards applied for and was successful in becoming a Keep Britain Tidy Ambassador for his local area, and the Litter Blitz group received a LOVE Northumberland Award in 2018 in recognition of the work they had done in the community.  

Mr Richards said:  “The most important message from our Morpeth Blitzes is that by all working as part of one team you can achieve superb results.  

“It all started back in 2017 when I was walking my dog, with my trusty litter picker, and was alerted to a huge litter black spot in the town.  I knew what the problem was far too big for one individual, and during that walk the idea of a litter blitz group was spawned.

“By the end of 2018 we had collected 401 large black bags of rubbish, plus numerous large items such as barbecues, tyres, wheelbarrows and TVs!  

“Walking around Morpeth you can definitely see a difference, with the town and estates looking much tidier. It has definitely changed people’s attitudes and cleaned up areas of the town where litter could previously gather.  

“What a team we have in Morpeth and what clean-ups we have achieved, all started by a simple idea spawned while walking the dog!

The group works very closely with Northumberland County Council’s local services teams and the council nominated them for this award.

Councillor Glen Sanderson, cabinet member for the environment and local services said:  “I am extremely pleased that Dai and the Morpeth Litter Blitz group have been recognised in this shortlisting.  

“The entire project is a great example of everyone coming together as one team - the people and the businesses of Morpeth, the county council and the local town council - all with the aim of tackling a problem that is sadly widespread throughout the UK.  

“I would like to thank Dai and all the volunteers and participants for their ongoing excellent work, and wish them the best of luck at the finals.

“The county council will continue to do all it can to crack down on littering.”

Northumberland County Council has also been shortlisted for the second year running for its Love Parks campaign - an online promotion about people’s love for the county’s parks and green spaces.  The council won this national award last year, and has been shortlisted again for 2019.

All of the winners will be announced at the annual national Keep Britain Tidy network conference in February.
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