Inspiring Cecilia Reaches Lerwick

by Misa Hay -

Cecilia James has completed her marathon litter pick, reaching the Welcome to Lerwick sign on Today.  Starting in Voe on 12th September she has worked her way towards Lerwick clearing all the roadsides, roadside ditches and adjoining parks along the way.  While this is an 18 mile stretch of road, the ground covered by Cecilia is well over 100 miles!  Along the way she has collected 254 bags of litter and many other larger pieces of bruck.  

Cecilia's inspiration for the litter pick came following a letter in the Shetland Times from Robert Gibson, expressing his disappointment at the amount of litter he saw everywhere as he and his partner cycled through Shetland last summer and asking if Shetland cared.  Cecilia wrote to him last week telling him about what she had been doing and how he had prompted her into action.  Upon receiving her letter, Robert called to congratulate her on her achievement and inform her that he now knows we do care about our environment.

Support for Cecilia's project has come from many quarters, including passers by, local businesses and organisations and Facebook followers.  Cecilia did face challenges along the way, some of which, such as the weather, could not be helped but others for which she found local assistance.  Having filled her own and her neighbours shed before reaching half way, she needed somewhere to store all the bruck.  Local businesses were contacted and Streamline Shipping stepped in to loan Cecilia a 20 foot container, which Garriock Bros transported for free to a location the SIC had identified for Cecilia to use.  Other assistance included roadside signs to alert drivers to when Cecilia was out, which the SIC Roads department supplied and deployed every time Cecilia was out.  The Shetland Amenity Trust also helped, by providing redd up bags, transporting the collected bruck from the full sheds to the container and promoting her project on its Dunna Chuck Bruck Facebook page.  As Cecilia wanted to store the bruck for pictures of the final total, she has transported all of the 254 bags, and other bruck, in her Ford Fiesta.  The local Ford garage heard about her project and contacted her to offer to valet her car for free following her project, which she has gladly accepted.

Cecilia said: “The support received has been very heartening, not just from the businesses but also from the public.  Many passers by have tooted and waved and some have even come up to shake my hand and thank me.  Since I started the project, many people have commented that they now notice just how much roadside litter there is and that it is great someone is highlighting the problem and doing something about it.  The support on the Facebook page has also been phenomenal.  This has all turned what could have been a somewhat lonely exercise, into something which has 'inspired' me to see it through to the end and made it fun and enjoyable.”

So what now for Cecilia?  Well she hopes to work with Shetland Amenity Trust to sort the bruck gathered to get a picture of the rubbish being discarded at our roadsides.  The data gathered will help the Trust, and other local organisations, to understand where the bruck is coming from and try to tackle it at source.  Sita Goudie, Environmental Improvement Officer at Shetland Amenity Trust, said: “Cecilia is an inspirational individual and what she has done, especially at this time of year, is incredible.  One of Cecilia's original aims was to raise awareness of roadside litter, which she has certainly done, we now need to build on Cecilia's efforts and try to reduce the level of littering in the isles.  By storing the bruck, Cecilia has given us a great opportunity to analyse the types of litter gathering at our roadsides and where it could be coming from.  We hope to start sorting the bruck in a couple of weeks and will have regular updates on the Dunna Chuck Bruck Facebook page.”