Why this summer, like no other, is the right time to clean up Cornwall
The Spring Clean for the Queen campaign led by the Daily Mail, encouraging everyone to clean up our streets and countryside in preparation for the forthcoming Diamond Jubilee, seems to have really struck a chord.
I have to say my immediate reaction to this was one of full support. After retiring from my duties as Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall last year, I would fully back the sentiment in getting ready and involved to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. And of course, in my new role as chairman of Clean Cornwall, I also applaud the drive to pick up litter and clean up the places and countryside where we live.
It is in my involvement with Clean Cornwall, where I have been chairman since February, that I feel the urge to fly the flag for a host of good work that goes on regardless of big events or campaigns.
Whether it's beach cleans or litter picks by neighbourhood groups, volunteers across the county do their bit, driven by a passion to not only get Cornwall clean but also to work hard to get the message out there to keep the county clean. Clean Cornwall is something we should all embrace and support every day, but we know there is more work to be done in this area.
So if it means that we need big campaigns like those in the Daily Mail to reinvigorate more people in getting involved, well let's talk big ideas and how we can get involved here in Cornwall.
This is a massive year where the eyes of the world will be upon us. Advertisers are pitching the summer as one of huge celebrations – event organisers talk of the 100 or so days of celebration and fun that effectively start with the Diamond Jubilee and finish with the Paralympic Games in September.
But for us in Cornwall, these festivities and the attention that goes with them start a little earlier. Today, the Olympic Flame begins its long journey to East London in our beautiful part of the world.
The eyes of the media will be trailing the flame through our towns, villages, communities and countryside. What a fantastic opening advertisement for all that's great about the Westcountry, so we want our homeland to be as spick and span as possible. A clean Cornwall for everyone to see.
Not long after this great event, we are then into one of the biggest weekends of celebrations to be seen for decades. The Queen's Diamond Jubilee promises to be one of the most celebrated events, with people across the land, and indeed the Commonwealth, taking part over the first weekend in June. Again, we've got a really good Cornish story to tell here.
The Big Lunch, or for this year, the Big Jubilee Lunch to be precise, is an idea that came out of our very own Eden Project, and is now an integral part of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations announced by Buckingham Palace. There has been tremendous interest, with a personal message from the Queen supporting people who participate, and the Duchess of Cornwall is the patron of the event for this special year.
I find this particularly special. An idea that comes from Cornwall spreading across the country, being boosted by the Duchess of Cornwall, and a key theme within the celebrations – simply fantastic.
But what has this got to do with Clean Cornwall? Well, quite a lot.
The idea for the Big Jubilee Lunch is to encourage as many people as possible to sit down on one day and have lunch with their neighbours.
This year, the date is planned for Sunday, June 3. The first Big Lunch took place in 2009 and it has happened every year since. Last year, the best part of two million people across the UK took part.
Not only is it good fun, but all the research says that people feel happier and take more part in their communities. They say they live in neighbourhoods rather than just houses.
This is the special link with Clean Cornwall. The Big Lunch brings people together over food and they meet new neighbours and good things happen. Clean Cornwall has an "of the moment" role in that we can encourage people to leave their street or park cleaner after the Big Jubilee Lunch than before it. It also means that the chances of people taking responsibility for keeping a clean Cornwall are improved.
If the Olympic Flame and the Diamond Jubilee happen to pass you by, there then remains the other showcase for keeping Cornwall clean – our very own Royal Cornwall Show.
If you're like me and believe that Cornwall should be the cleanest county in the country every single day, then that's great. However, if you also feel that you need a big idea to get the place spruced up, then this summer – starting this weekend – is the call for all of us to clean Cornwall.