Community champions get themselves a set of wheels

Picking up an award: from left are Emily Hunter, community engagement co-ordinator with the Banks Group; Andy Rutherford, head of highways and neighbourhood services at Northumberland County Council and Barbara Roberts, Gordon Phelps and Ron James from the Widdrington and Stobswood Litter Pickers.
Picking up an award: from left are Emily Hunter, community engagement co-ordinator with the Banks Group; Andy Rutherford, head of highways and neighbourhood services at Northumberland County Council and Barbara Roberts, Gordon Phelps and Ron James from the Widdrington and Stobswood Litter Pickers.
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THE new Love Northumberland awards main sponsor has visited one of last year’s projects to see first hand the work of community champions.

Banks Group’s Community Engagement Co-ordinator Emily Hunter had a look at the work of the Widdrington Station and Stobswood Litter Pickers, who were runners-up in the Best Ongoing Project category in 2011.

Members have spent their £100 prize money on a heavy duty barrow that they plan to use to transport bags of litter and particularly any larger dumped items they come across to a point where the council can collect them.

The volunteers saw a need for action to clean up areas of the villages and have now been meeting weekly for the best part of a decade with the aim of keeping their area pristine.

Leslie Roberts, one of the original members of the group, said: “Following discussions over bacon butties and coffee we asked the council if it could help with litter pickers and gloves – that was sorted out quickly and so we were soon under way.

“Until now we have tended to make numerous journeys up and down the roads, carrying one or two items each time, and depositing them at a place where the council workers collect them for proper disposal.

“The group felt that a barrow or trolley would enable members to do this much more efficiently. We will also be able to use it when we find items like bicycle frames, which are sometimes left in the park.”

The Love Northumberland awards are co-ordinated by Northumberland County Council as part of its campaign to improve and enhance the environment.

They celebrate the vast amount of effort that goes into projects run by volunteer groups for the benefit of residents and visitors alike.

Ms Hunter said: “I work closely with local communities throughout Northumberland and I am extremely impressed by the commitment of residents to local causes like this one, which is a great example of a group that is making a huge difference to its local community. This work is too often unseen and goes unrewarded.

“Groups like this are the lifeblood of communities and through our involvement in the Love Northumberland awards we are hoping to help to give more recognition to community volunteers.”

The awards are also being supported for the second year by the Co-operative’s Northumberland Area Committee, as well as a number of county-based companies and organisations.

The closing date for applications is Friday, June 8.

For more information about the awards and how to enter visit www.northumberland.gov.uk/love