A County Durham woman who has gone above and beyond for her community through her love of litter picking has been recognised in the sweep-est way.
Durham County Council’s clean and green team was contacted by resident Cris Robson who wanted to gift a unique birthday present to his wife Amanda, who has autism.
Amanda, who is 51 this month, is passionate about picking up litter and has taken up a volunteer role where she lives in Consett.
Armed with a trolley and gloves gifted by her husband, and refuse bags and litter pickers from the council’s civic pride team, the mother-of-five goes out as often as she can to support the team’s work in her neighbourhood by litter picking, from the Denes to Medomsley Village.
Amanda, who likes to dress up as she litter picks to inspire others, also set up a Facebook group to bring people together to discuss environmental and social issues.
Over time she has seen an increase in the number of people interacting through the group and helping out in their local area.
“I felt really happy noticing a big drop in the volume of litter and waste that I was collecting on each pick up over the course of the year,” said Amanda.
“If everyone chose to adopt one small area around their home, street, business, or even just their favourite walking spot, and helped take care of it for a few months, they would start to feel empowered to help with proactive change.”
Amanda also has a keen interest and fascination for road sweepers, and so Cris contacted the council for help in delivering a memorable birthday surprise.
The clean and green team arranged for one of its Scarab sweepers, Amanda’s favourite vehicle, to be brought to her street where she was taken on a short drive and shown how it operates.
Cris said, “Amanda has a deep love for street sweeper vehicles such as the Scarab, so I wanted to make this a special and unforgettable experience for her. She was extremely excited and overjoyed that this could happen.
“Amanda voluntarily cleans up litter and has been doing an excellent job in helping keep the area clean. I believe this experience has not only been memorable for her, but a great reward for her hard work and dedication.”
Cllr Mark Wilkes, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and climate change, said: “When we heard about Amanda’s interest in street sweepers, as well as the hard work she puts in for her community, we were delighted to make this happen for her.
“It was great to see Amanda truly enjoy the experience and help Cris gift this experience to his wife.”
Amanda added: “I continue to collect rubbish in my area, one piece at a time, and anyone can do it too and see how it helps.
“If I’ve inspired just one person to adopt their area and take care of it then my birthday wish, to ride on the street scarab, was the best birthday wish I could ask for.”