National award for Polzeath man's beach work
A POLZEATH man's efforts to keep his local environment clean has won him a national award and the title Countryside Champion of the Year.
Nick Pickles formed a group of like-minded people to regularly clean the beach and at a ceremony in London, organised by the Campaign to Protect Rural England, he was presented with the 2013 Marsh Christian Trust Award for a litter-free countryside.
The 63-year-old received the award from the CPRE president, the former Poet Laureate, Sir Andrew Motion.
Mr Pickles, a member of Wadebridge Rotary Club, was also presented with a cheque for £500, which he will be donating to local environment groups and Children's Hospice South West's Little Harbour hospice.
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Polzeath beach is only cleaned sporadically by Cornwall Council contractors Cory, so Mr Pickles formed a BeachCare group to tackle marine debris and litter.
Now, every month a clean-up is in place with the group removing litter.
A detailed litter survey is also being carried out by Polzeath group, recording items that are washed in by tide or dropped by visitors.
This information is added into database to give a detailed picture of the issues facing beaches in the South West.
Mr Pickles has engaged with local residents, schools and businesses and encouraged them to see the beach area differently. Schools utilised the area for games but had no involvement in protecting it. Now, three schools are involved in regular clean-ups, which he co-ordinates.
The group provides 628 volunteer hours to Polzeath beach alone.
A bodyboard collection campaign was started with council assistance, and 600 discarded bodyboards left after just one season were collected and recycled as under-floor cushioning for a local dance theatre's new studio.
Sir Andrew Motion said: 'It takes dedicated people like Nick to see that something's wrong and do something energetic about it.
"He has engaged people, schools and businesses and shown them how to see their beach differently and actively go about protecting Polzeath from marine litter, which is so harmful. Well done, Nick.'
Mr Pickles, who is not a member of the CPRE and was nominated by Keep Britain Tidy, said: 'Litter, mostly plastic, which can last many hundreds of years, is proving more and more destructive to an increasing number of species.
"We need to educate all generations to this threat. Today though, it's been really validating to receive this award, and I really want to thank everyone involved in BeachCare who equally deserve credit.''
The BeachCare group is now 40 strong, and anyone interested in offering a hand can contact Mr Pickles via firstname.lastname@example.org