'I need your help': James, 8, starts 'waste walks' around his village

James Naylor, eight, and his mum, Vanessa, out walking and picking up litter in Saham Toney. Picture

James Naylor, eight, and his mum, Vanessa, out walking and picking up litter in Saham Toney. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

An “incredibly caring” eight-year-old boy is on a mission to clear up his village and is calling for communities across Norfolk to start picking up their litter. 

During lockdown, James Naylor and his mother, Vanessa Naylor, had started noticing a lot of rubbish during walks around their village, Saham Toney.  

James, who loves animals, became concerned about the effect on wildlife and asked his mum if they could do something about it. 

James Naylor, eight, and his mum, Vanessa, out walking and picking up litter in Saham Toney. Picture

James Naylor, eight, and his mum, Vanessa, out walking and picking up litter in Saham Toney. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Miss Naylor, 43, said: “During lockdown we were sat having lunch one day and James said to me 'can we go on a litter pick' and I thought 'this is really out of the blue'. 

"So, we walked through the village and started picking up litter and I hadn’t realised just how much litter there is everywhere. I think as adults we lead busy lives, we are always rushing around and perhaps in a normal world we wouldn’t have been walking around our own village as much. 


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“I asked him why he wanted to do it and his reason was to protect wildlife. He is a very caring little boy and he loves animals. He was concerned about certain things that people throw out like plastic can holders and masks that animals and birds will get caught in.  

James Naylor, eight, out walking and picking up litter in Saham Toney. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

James Naylor, eight, out walking and picking up litter in Saham Toney. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

“We also talked about the fact that it’s James’ generation who will inherit the world we leave behind and it has just gone from there."

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Following his “waste walks” around the village, James wrote a letter to his headteacher Sarah Disney at Parkers Primary Academy, Breckland district councillor for the Saham Toney ward Helen Crane, this newspaper and environment minister George Eustice. 

Litter in the ditches in Saham Toney. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Litter in the ditches in Saham Toney. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

In his handwritten letter, he wrote: “My name is James, I’m eight years old. I have been taking lots of lockdown walks and I am sad at how much rubbish is in my village.  

“Rubbish looks horrible, it hurts wildlife and goes into rivers, lakes and soil causing pollution. I have started 'waste walking' going for my walk but picking up rubbish along the way.  

“I NEED YOUR HELP! If every person went for a local walk once a month picking up rubbish along the way, then your local area would be safer and pollution would be less. 

“So please join me in trash taking, refuse recovering, litter lifting, rubbish raising, garbage grabbing and go waste walking.” 

James Naylor, eight, and his mum, Vanessa, out walking and picking up litter in Saham Toney. Picture

James Naylor, eight, and his mum, Vanessa, out walking and picking up litter in Saham Toney. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Inspired by his words, Ms Crane and headteacher Mrs Disney have organised a poster competition at the school to raise awareness about the effects of litter on the environment and, when lockdown lifts, they hope to organise a community litter pick with children and parents. 

Ms Crane said: “I received a handwritten letter and it was absolutely wonderful. In capital letters he put ‘I need your help’ and how could anyone ignore that?

“What he has done has highlighted an issue we all know about. 

“And now our young people are noticing it. Lockdown has brought more people into the countryside, some are treating it well and others are not treating it quite so well. 

“I was so pleased to think that child would think to themselves, ‘where could I get help?’ I was chuffed to pieces.” 

Miss Naylor and James have also been contacted by Gordon Bambridge, executive member for environmental and public protection at Breckland Council, and have been invited to look around a new waste depo, which is set to open in Watton later this year.

Miss Naylor added: “It’s so nice for him to have a focus and to want to do good and make a difference.

"As a parent, I think it’s important that we teach our children that they do have a voice and what they will be listened to and they can make a difference. 

“I’m a very proud mum.”

James Naylor, eight, and his mum, Vanessa, out walking and picking up litter in Saham Toney. Picture

James Naylor, eight, and his mum, Vanessa, out walking and picking up litter in Saham Toney. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021


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