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March 2019 - The North Down Advertiser

Ards and North Down Litter Heroes Award.  Live Here Love Here Manager Jodie McAneaney with winners The Gibson Family – Nigel McGarry, Matthew, Ethan and Helen Gibson and Deputy Mayor of Ards and North Down Borough Council Councillor Eddie Thompson. 

Tuesday 12th February saw volunteers gather at the 3rd annual Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful Community Awards in Belfast City Hall with host, TV presenter Joe Mahon and guest speaker Jo Ruxton, filmmaker and campaigner who opened the eyes of the world to the problems of plastic in A Plastic Ocean and influenced Blue Planet II.

The evening was designed to recognise and thank all the volunteers who had been short listed for their continued hard work and dedication to the cause.

From regular litter picks to the creation of shared community spaces, these unsung heroes dedicate their time and efforts into making our home cleaner, greener, safer and more sustainable.

The Ards and North Down Litter Heroes Award went to the Gibson family.  Bangor Grammar School Students, Ethan and Matthew Gibson have grown up in a family that is passionate about the environment and wanted to set up a family group to tackle local litter problems. They Adopted A Spot in the beautiful coastal area of Ballywhiskin, Millisle an area of profuse littering, anti-social behaviour and fly-tipping.  Over time the boys have removed scooters, bikes, hoovers and mattresses with the help of the local council and have involved the extended family including grandparents and cousins.

The Coast Care Award sponsored by Coca-Cola HBC went to George Raymond Smyth.  Since 2016 Raymond has been an active volunteer with Ardglass Development Association and a tireless volunteer at marine litter picks in Ardglass.

Finally, The Spirit of Live Here Love Here Award went to the Strangford Lough and Lecale Partnership Coastal Guardian.  The Volunteers use innovation and teamwork to tackle unsightly and dangerous marine litter focusing on areas which are difficult to tackle due to their inaccessibility. 

Guest Speaker Jo Ruxton thanked the volunteers and encouraged them to make a stand in their local communities and champion the reduction of litter:  “Never underestimate just how much one single person can achieve. The problem might seem insurmountable but take that first step on your own and just watch how many people join you and help bring about change.”

Live Here Love Here Manager Jodie McAneaney comments:  “These awards are so important, they give us the opportunity to highlight the issues and reward those who are actively making a difference.  Plastic in particular has been hitting the headlines this year with its devasting effects, making our special guest Jo Ruxton the perfect candidate to inspire us to really strive for change. Hopefully in 2019 our continued efforts and that of our volunteers and partners can make steps towards tackling this terrible problem.” 



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