Award for litter picker champion

Friday 24th June 2022 6:00 am
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An enthusiastic litter picker has been given an award for the hard work cleaning his village.

Dennis Fairchild, 85, heads out early with a high vis jacket and armed with a litter picker to regularly go out around Yelverton.

He started doing it as a motivation to get fit but has carried it on as he prides himself on keeping things clean.

Dennis’ hard work has been rewarded with a Community Stars award by housing association LiveWest, which regularly gives the awards to applaud people who have gone above and beyond to support their communities.

Dennis said: ‘I started it partly for fitness as it gives me something to do as living in our flat there isn’t much to keep yourself busy with, so this gets me out meeting people and socialising as well.

‘When I started, it was just a suggested exercise to keep me moving like walking around but then I thought picking up rubbish is a good thing to do.’

Dennis walks around Briar Tor, then all around the centre of Yelverton and along the Princetown Road and often covers an even wider area.

He has carried out litterpicking every since moving into Briar Tor 18 months ago. He has continued throughout lockdown, and always has a chat with people he meets on the way which helps put a smile on people’s faces and boosts their sense of pride in the local area.

Dennis has had lots of jobs from school caretaker to car mechanic and he is a former military man. He worked in the Army on logistics for ten and a half years.

In recent years, Dennis volunteered at the airfield Knightstone Tea Rooms as a hobby to keep the disposable bay area tidy when the aircraft weren’t using it. Although he doesn’t do that anymore, he still enjoys going up there.

This has also given him more determination to keep the environment safe and clean for wildlife.

Dennis said: ‘I used to do a lot of things near the old airfield and when you see animals picking up plastic bags and eating them and everything that they shouldn’t do, it’s not funny anymore.

‘Also, cleanliness and tidiness are what we were taught, and it goes alongside the job so it’s important to have these skills. This was essential when I worked in a garage as I had to clean all the tools and put them back in their place.

‘When I see rubbish lying around it’s the reason I do it, as it’s my contribution, but it gives me a reason to get up in the morning and do something positive. It seems like the day is not complete unless I go and do something like that, and it gives me the feel-good factor.’

He married his wife Shirley in 1962 in Wolverhampton and they moved to the Buckland area after the war. Dennis is originally from Tiverton but they both lived in Buckland for many years.

The community has given Dennis some positive comments about his efforts.

Dennis said: ‘It’s an honour and a sign of appreciation to get that and win this award from LiveWest. I’m not too fussed about being recognised over it because I get to go out and I enjoy doing it. The appreciation can of course sometimes go down, but I don’t do it for that, and I will continue with it.’

He was nominated by Alison Knight, community connector for LiveWest and Wendy McClean, scheme manager for neighbourhoods for LiveWest.

Alison Knight said: ‘I’m delighted that Dennis has received an award for the work he has been doing around Briar Tor. This demonstrates amazing community spirit and volunteering little and often, can make a big difference to the area where you live.

‘I hope others feel inspired to do something positive in their communities as it doesn’t go unnoticed by people.’

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