Environmental charity Keep Scotland Beautiful has relaunched its Clean Up Scotland Hero award, with Renfrewshire’s Kathreen Cannon the first winner.

Kathreen, or Kate, is part of Renfrewshire Council’s Team Up to Clean Up campaign, where she has volunteered for almost three years.

Litter picking every other day, Kathreen completed more than 200 litter picks in 2023, removing over 840 bags of litter from Lochfield, her local community. As a thank you for her efforts, she has received a clean-up kit from Helping Hand.

Emma McCrystal, who nominated Kathreen for the award, said: “As well as litter picking, Kate has created a fairy garden in the local woodland, near the children’s play park.

“Kate also cuts back the vegetation there, scrapes the paths, weeds and tidies, so much so that other volunteers, and passers-by regularly thank her for her efforts in improving this area. The local school take the infant pupils to this woodland now on nature walks, Kate loves meeting and greeting the little ones.”

Kathreen was encouraged to join Team Up to Clean Up by her daughter after she got fed up with a bunch of leaves on a pavement and decided to sweep them up. From there, her passion for litter picking started.

She said: “I’m really chuffed. I’ve been doing it for nearly three years now. There’s a wee park near me so when I’m not litter picking I’m in there tidying up.”

Asked about Scotland’s issue with litter, Kathreen said: “It’s a disgrace.

“I go right round the whole of Lochfield and go back to the start to leave my final bag [of litter] and there’s litter already accumulating.

“It’s a bit soul destroying but I thought, ‘nope, they’re not going to beat me’. I’ll keep going.”

Heather Mclaughlin, Campaigns Coordinator at Keep Scotland Beautiful, said: “I am incredibly pleased to award Kathreen with our Clean Up Scotland Hero award. She’s a great role model for everyone and really deserves this recognition for her enduring determination.

“Scotland has a litter emergency, so it is more important than ever that we look after our beautiful country and keep it clean and tidy.

“Our latest report found that 90% of people believe litter is an issue across the country, so we all have a responsibility to play our part.

“We know how much people care about our environment, and I hope that Kate’s award encourages others to get involved and help us keep Scotland beautiful.”

Chrissie Jeffery, Scottish Lead for Helping Hand, said: “As the UK’s leading manufacturer and supplier of quality, sustainable litter clearance tools and equipment, our commitment to environmental responsibility is at the forefront of our mission. Since 2014, we have taken immense pride in championing the Hero of the Month Award, a platform that recognises the extraordinary dedication of individuals and organisations striving to Keep Scotland Beautiful.

“Today, we extend our heartfelt congratulations to the latest winner, Kathreen, and we will be sending them a sustainable litter picking kit to help continue their remarkable efforts in contributing to the collective goal of fostering a cleaner, greener Scotland.

“We believe in empowering those who share our passion for environmental stewardship, and it is truly inspiring to witness the positive influence these heroes have on their communities.”

Scotland has a litter emergency, with 90% of people agreeing that litter is a problem across the country. Everyone has a part to play and you can get involved now, by signing up to Spring Clean Scotland 2024 and registering for our Upstream Battle Week of Action.

If you know someone who deserves to be recognised, visit keepscotlandbeautiful.org for more information.

By Ricky Kelly

Main writer for Renfrewshire News

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