Litter picking at the Millennium Bridge

This is not a rubbish story!

Since stopping just South of St Johns lock at Lechlade for the last few days we have had some glorious weather and there has been a steady stream of paddle boarders, swimmers, boats and … bridge jumpers. The bridge jumpers are mainly boys of a certain age who must come straight from school to dare each other to jump further, higher and more stylishly than the last. Most like to be caught on camera and theres a lot of discussion about whether the shot was a good one or not once the jump has been completed!

The groups of boys might be relatively small to start with but after a couple of hours of bridge jumping the numbers swell and there are probably 30 or more gathered on and around the bridge vying to take a turn at jumping off it. Inevitably some are organised enough to to bring snacks or a picnic. It’s a fantastic place for them to hang out! 

Unfortunately, there appears to be an inability, by some of these young visitors, to take their rubbish away with them. 

I caught a couple taking away a full bag of rubbish!

The other day I was out walking Brindley and Telford when I came across a couple who were armed with large black plastic rubbish bags. I caught them in the act of taking a full one away and leaving an empty one behind.

We exchanged a few words about their actions – I was most impressed – and grateful – for their selfless dedication to clearing up other peoples rubbish. 

“I am Steve and this is Silvia and our dog Rupert, who is an ex racing greyhound. He’s our third one. He is eleven years old now.”

I asked them what made them start to collect the rubbish?

Steve replied; “We have been walking every morning over here – the old Bloomers meadow – for years and years and years. And gradually (I’m not quite sure when it first happened) we started spotting odd bits of litter so Silvia used to carry a carrier bag and pick up the litter and dump it in the bin at the lock (St Johns lock) and we have been doing that for years.”

“But this year, what with the lockdown, this place was an absolute magnet at the beginning of the summer – I mean there was cars parked in the road and let alone the lay-by… so Silv said I’ll take a bin liner over with me in the morning and pick the stuff up. And actually there was so much of it that we needed more than one bin liner. So we went and bought some very heavy duty bin liners (they’re quite expensive) and then Silv had the idea – well we will come over, clear up and then leave an empty one on the gate, by the Millennium Bridge, as that’s where all the kids seem to congregate and we have been doing it ever since then!”

How much do you think you have collected so far this year?

Silvia said; “We think we have collected about 30 bags of rubbish so far this year. Many of them have the disposable BBQs in them – they weigh a ton! And it wasn’t just that. Where the lay-by is on the main road on one morning just by the gate, someone had obviously had a bbq there was a carrier bag where they had cleared everything up, and then just dumped the carrier bag into the hedge!”

As long as we are still upright and can move our feet we will carry on doing it!

“I think it’ll stop for now (the litter). As the summer comes to an end but it’ll be back next summer. But it doesn’t matter because as long as we are still upright and can move our feet we’ll do what we can to clear it up! We’ll carry on doing it.”

“A few people know we do this – I can’t say that we’re the only ones that do it. I have no idea. I mean we just come over here every morning and most afternoons but apart from that anything could be happening! I don’t know!”

Lechlade is such a beautiful place it just doesn’t deserve it

“The year we got married, we decided to do something different for our holiday and we decided to hire a boat from Thames Dutton and had a week. The following year we had a fortnight and came to Lechlade and thought that this is where we’d like to retire to.”

“We moved here to Lechlade 15 and a half years ago. We had absolutely fallen in love with the place. We had a boat moored at the lock for years and years. We’d go to London once a year on the boat (to Kingston and Teddington) and we loved it but in the end our old dog Maggot got too old to get on and off the boat so we tied it up and by the time she’d gone I just realised that I couldn’t look after the boat any more – I had a terrible bad back, I couldn’t get in the engine hatch and do any work so we sold the boat. But we found a place here in Lechlade and so it all worked out in the end!”

This is not a rubbish story!

I went along to take some photographs for this blog of the bridge and the area where the boys hang out… and do you know – there was not a single piece of litter to be seen.

If everyone did what you did then the world would be a better place, I said. Steve replied “and then there’d be nothing for us to do!”

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