Posted by: Jenny | Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Honeybourne Line litter pick

Thankfully it was a dry morning on Saturday, when 25 people got busy on the Honeybourne Line cycle path in Cheltenham to pick up litter and tidy the area.

Meeting at “Ben’s Bench” on the cycle path, they worked hard for an hour.  Malcolm Walls, of Cheltenham Borough Parks Department, said “It’s great to see the local community get out and take responsibility for the environment.  We’d love to see even more people doing it!”  The Parks Department provided tools and bin bags for the volunteers to use, and took away the bags of litter afterwards.

Many of the people who took part remember Ben Lockwood, who died in a road traffic accident on Christmas Eve 2005, aged 24.  The first litter pick was organised on Ben’s birthday in February 2007, when the bench was dedicated by friends and family and members of the Rendezvous Society.  A litter pick has taken place every February since then.

Rendezvous has been associated with the cycle path since it was first planned in 1985.  Young people from various countries gathered in Cheltenham for a youth conference that summer, and helped to clear the undergrowth from a section of the line near Malvern Road.  Ben came along then, as a toddler, and when he was older he took part in another youth conference organised by Rendezvous.  The Rendezvous charity celebrates its 25-year anniversary this year.  Maz Eshraghi-Yazdi was one of the original youth volunteers from 1985.  He joined the litter-pickers on Saturday, with his own two children, Ryan and Kian.

Ben was a member of the Bahá’í Faith, and it is important to Bahá’ís to do good deeds in the name of the departed.

Ben’s father Martin Lockwood, a member of the Bahá’í community and Rendezvous member, said “As I cleared the area around Ben’s bench, it was wonderful to receive so many appreciative comments from passers-by.  It feels really good to be doing something to benefit the community.  We found ourselves clearing more brambles than litter this year.  Thanks to the respect that the people of Cheltenham have for their surroundings, there was less litter lying around!”

Volunteers had travelled from as far afield as London and Swansea to join in, but most of the helpers were local to Cheltenham.  After an hour of hard work, everyone enjoyed a bowl of hot soup at St Marks Methodist hall.

See you there next year!

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