The work of selfless volunteers who have kept County Durham communities blooming during the coronavirus pandemic is to be celebrated.

Individuals and groups are being encouraged to share their stories and pictures of environmental improvements, such as litter picking or planting, in the areas where they live that they have undertaken in the past year.

From Monday 17 May, litter picking groups are able to incorporate 30 volunteers at one time and Durham County Council’s Civic Pride service is able to support litter picking groups with the short-term loan of equipment.

The service is also looking to celebrate the work of younger litter pickers, with schools invited to nominate a child, group or class for the Tidy Ted Award, which is named after the council’s anti-litter mascot.

As well as litter picking, children can be nominated for any environmental achievements and gardening club projects they may have undertaken during the pandemic and the winning entry will receive a Tidy Ted certificate and gold badge for their efforts. Schools are also being asked to ‘adopt’ an area to keep litter-free and can borrow litter picking equipment from the Civic Pride service.

The Sedgefield in Bloom group is one organisation that has made a positive difference to its area. Volunteers have provided colourful troughs of spring and summer flowers, towers of hanging baskets and spruced up the ever-popular Bloom Bike, which is now tumbling with plants on the village green.

Norma Neal, Sedgefield in Bloom secretary, sponsorship and publicity officer, said: “During lockdown and particularly as restrictions have begun to ease, the village has retained its brilliant community spirit. Colourful tubs, borders and beds can’t fail to lift the spirits.”

The West Auckland in Bloom group meanwhile has carried out various improvements, including helping to brighten up the pathway to the area’s local primary school. Group members also created Christmas and Easter displays.

Ian Hoult, Durham County Council’s neighbourhood protection manager, said: “Well done to everyone who has gone the extra mile to keep their area looking great during the coronavirus pandemic. Your actions are greatly appreciated by everyone in the community.

“We look forward to hearing more stories about groups which have given up their time to take pride in our communities and would remind people that we can help with the loan of equipment to carry out this work.”

To register interest in borrowing litter picking equipment for a group litter pick or to submit a story, email [email protected]

For more on the council’s Civic Pride service go to

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