A DEDICATED group of litter-pickers have cleared a record amount of rubbish - collecting more than 4,000 bags of waste from their communities.

The Wombles of Hambleton were formed in 2018 by Claire Hampson, who was dismayed by the amount of litter in the lanes near her home village of Danby Wiske.

Since then they have been diligently cleaning up towns and villages in the area, winning praise and plaudits including a 'Hambleton Heroes' award from the district council.

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It has now been revealed that in 2021, the Wombles broke all local litterpicking records when they picked an astonishing 4,101 bags of litter from their local environment.

The Northern Echo:

The Wombles collected a massive 33 bags or rubbish around Valley Road in Northallerton recently Picture: HAMBLETON WOMBLES

Ms Hampson said the amount was 'quite incredible' given some of last year was spent in lockdown, said the Wombles 'took it all in their stride, kept calm and safely carried on'.

She added: "The year also saw the emergence of a number of new smaller Wombles groups, linking up some of our village and town communities.

"The group in Thirsk in particular, which was only formed in March, has tackled several grot spots and is making a big impact on the area.

"The last 12 months has in addition seen the rise of the number of Duke of Edinburgh litterpicking volunteers from local schools, which is very encouraging news."

Ms Hampson said that during a recent litter pick around the gardens of the Rivendale assisted living complex on Valley Road, Northallerton, two mini-Wombles Rosie, two and Lillian, four, stole the show.

The Northern Echo:

Wombles Rosie, two and Lillian, four, PictureL HAMBLETON WOMBLES

She said: "They also spent time waving to the residents which really brightened their day and have since taken instagram and twitter by storm.

"We just can’t compete!"

Paul Staines, director of environment at Hambleton District Council, praised the Wombles for their efforts and said the problem of littering 'isn’t going away'.

He added: "We support the community litter picking groups and work very closely with them.

"We thank them for their work and their vital contribution to keeping both public and private land clear.

"Fly tipping continues to be an issue. We are very responsive to requests to clear it, though the council has no power to remove fly tipping from private land.

"We investigate every instance to establish if the perpetrator can be found.

"We have worked with litter picking groups to ensure that we do not overlap our efforts with theirs.

The Northern Echo:

"We also work with parish and town councils and have provided signage for parishes to use to push home the message about littering and fly tipping.

"We have also had extensive social media campaigns and our recycling officer undertakes talks to community groups, we also continue to deploy CCTV as a deterrent."

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Mr Staines said that in the months when the council doesn't collect garden waste from households, workers to concentrate on major litter picking operations, such as the A19 and the laybys.

He said: "While we have undertaken much of this work, it has been harder this year due to the continued impacts of the pandemic.

"No jobs or services have been cut. However, there has been a shortfall of available staff due to absences and we are employing agency staff to try to make up some ground.

"Hambleton Wombles thoroughly deserve their status as ‘Hambleton Heroes’ and we applaud their determination and hard work and we continue to support and work with them as well as the many other community groups in towns and villages across Hambleton."


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