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Saturday, March 7, 2009

‘Geoff’s our Local Litter Hero!’

SINCE moving to Ponteland 54 years ago, Geoff Heslop has kept Darras Hall a litter-free zone by declaring his own personal war on rubbish.

Originally from Riding Mill, the 82-year-old moved to Ponteland with his wife Judy, (78), in 1954, and immediately began taking litter off the streets.

And his dedication to his work over the years, which currently sees him covering around ten miles on foot each week collecting litter with his dog Tickie Two, has prompted Castle Morpeth Borough Council to declare him a “local litter hero”.

Director of customer services for the council, Paul Johnston, said: “Mr Heslop is just the sort of resident we like to encourage. His daily walk up to his local shops is a litter-free zone thanks to his hard work.

“Our green and clean team talk with him regularly and not only does he keep his own patch clear, he’s good at spotting areas where extra help is needed, which is much appreciated by Mitch Hawkes and Trevor Standen, our Ponteland litter team who’ve come to rely on Mr Heslop’s steer on local litter matters.”

Estimating he has collected somewhere in the region of three tonnes of litter discarded by the public in the last 50 years, Mr Heslop has no plans to give up what he refers to as his “litter work” just yet.

He said: “I’ve got about 15 bags of rubbish in my garage at the moment.

“Of course, when I started doing this all those years ago, the Broadway shops weren’t even there, so as the estate has developed and got bigger, the litter problem has become worse.

“I’ve always done it with the blessing of the various councils and the Darras Hall Estates Committee and it very kindly supplies me with litter pickers and bags, which I have handed out to those people who want to get involved.”

Chairman of Ponteland Town Council, Coun. Robin Ramsay, said: “The council is very aware of the work Mr Heslop has done over the years and, really, we’d be lost without him.”

A spokesman for the Darras Hall Estates Committee said: “Over the years we have provided Mr Heslop with the equipment he needs to help him in his litter collections.

“He is a very valued member of the community and we are very appreciative of everything he does.”

Source: Hexham Courant