An extraordinary woman from County Durham who has made a significant contribution to her community through her passion for litter picking has been honoured in a unique way.

Cris Robson, a resident of Durham, contacted the clean and green team of Durham County Council to present a special birthday gift to his wife Amanda, who is autistic and turning 51 this month.

Amanda, who resides in Consett, has a strong desire to keep her community clean and has volunteered to pick up litter in her area. Equipped with a trolley and gloves given to her by her husband, as well as refuse bags and litter pickers provided by the council’s civic pride team, the mother of five has been actively supporting the team’s litter picking efforts in her locality, covering areas ranging from the Denes to Medomsley Village.

Extraordinary Durham Woman Honoured for Litter Picking Passion
Stanley resident Amanda Robson is visited by a roadsweep. Pictured with Mark Wilks. Photo by: Silverbird Photography Emily Carey

In addition to her litter picking, Amanda enjoys dressing up to inspire others while carrying out her volunteer work. She also created a Facebook group to bring individuals together to discuss environmental and social issues. Over time, she has witnessed an increase in community engagement through the group, with more people volunteering to help keep their local area clean.

“I felt really happy noticing a big drop in the volume of litter and waste that I was collecting on each pick up over the course of the year,” said Amanda.

“If everyone chose to adopt one small area around their home, street, business, or even just their favourite walking spot, and helped take care of it for a few months, they would start to feel empowered to help with proactive change.”

Amanda also has a keen interest and fascination for road sweepers, and so Cris contacted the council for help in delivering a memorable birthday surprise.

The clean and green team arranged for one of its Scarab sweepers, Amanda’s favourite vehicle, to be brought to her street where she was taken on a short drive and shown how it operates.

Cris said, “Amanda has a deep love for street sweeper vehicles such as the Scarab, so I wanted to make this a special and unforgettable experience for her. She was extremely excited and overjoyed that this could happen.

“Amanda voluntarily cleans up litter and has been doing an excellent job in helping keep the area clean. I believe this experience has not only been memorable for her, but a great reward for her hard work and dedication.”

Cllr Mark Wilkes, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and climate change, said: “When we heard about Amanda’s interest in street sweepers, as well as the hard work she puts in for her community, we were delighted to make this happen for her.

“It was great to see Amanda truly enjoy the experience and help Cris gift this experience to his wife.”

Amanda added: “I continue to collect rubbish in my area, one piece at a time, and anyone can do it too and see how it helps.

“If I’ve inspired just one person to adopt their area and take care of it then my birthday wish, to ride on the street scarab, was the best birthday wish I could ask for.”

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