North Walsham High School teacher turns into one-man litter-picker around the town

PUBLISHED: 09:07 02 May 2014 | UPDATED: 09:07 02 May 2014

Avid litter collector Simon Weal in North Walsham.

Avid litter collector Simon Weal in North Walsham. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2014

A schoolteacher in North Walsham has become so irritated by the amount of rubbish blighting the town that he has started a regular one-man litter-picking round.

Simon Weal arms himself with a grabber pole and rubbish bag and litter-picks his way to and from work at North Walsham High School every day.

And he also spends about an hour per day every Saturday and Sunday ridding the town of litter.

Mr Weal, 49, who lives in the town’s Church Street, has also given hard-hitting assemblies to high school students about the menace of rubbish, including images of the injuries it can cause wildlife.

And, since he began his campaign about two months ago, he said he had been delighted at the positive response from adults and children.

“I have had people driving past and smiling at me, and people coming up and congratulating me,” said Mr Weal, who teaches languages and geography.

He had also been delighted during the Easter holidays, while litter-picking on the Acorn Road green, when several high school children spotted him and kept running up with litter for his bag.

Mr Weal said he had first started litter-picking while on a canal holiday with his father and brother a few years ago.

As he sat on the barge he noticed the amount of rubbish floating past in the water, bought himself a fishing net, reinforced it with superglue and began catching litter.

“My dad and brother kept saying ‘Just enjoy the holiday’ but in a strange way I was,” he recalled.

And then, earlier this year, he watched a feature on the BBC’s One Show about a group of women who regularly went litter-picking in their neighbourhood - and decided he was going to do the same.

“Once you start you really notice it, and it is really annoying” he said.

“Mankind has colonised most of our planet and there are not many green areas left.

“It’s really sad to see those green areas blighted by litter. It also shows you the selfishness and ignorance of the people who drop it.”

He has alerted North Norfolk District Council to hotspots, where he believes unsightly brambles encourage people to treat an area as a tip. They include the ramp up to the Sheringham platform at the railway station, and the alleyway beside the bowls club on New Road.

And he has discovered via Streetlife, the online community noticeboard site, that there are other litter pickers doing their bit for communities elsewhere in north Norfolk. They include a woman whose dog brings her discarded plastic bottles which she puts in bin bags.

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