After retiring from a busy career in General Practice, you’d perhaps expect most to take things easy, put their feet up, and enjoy the break.
But Dr Harpreet Singh Cheema – or ‘Hap’ to friends, acquaintances, and anyone really – decided that standard retirement was a load of rubbish, and set up Huddersfield Litter Busters.
Hap and a small but dedicated team of volunteers set out on regular litter picks, mainly in the Fixby and Bradley areas of Huddersfield. No terrain too tricky or waste too grim for this hardy bunch, they have been responsible for the removal of vast amounts of rubbish over the years.
Litter picks originally mainly involved friends and family, until Hap realised that he could get more people on board by using social media: “This year our numbers on Facebook have almost doubled, and we’re getting over 10 people turning up for litter picks compared to the 4 or 5 we got previously, which is great!”, he said.
Litter Busters most recently cleared rubbish from Netheroyd Hill Road, which involved some of the hardy volunteers having a dip in the stream behind Mumbai Spice to fish out some items destined for the dustbin.
If Hap decides litter busting isn’t for him in the long run, he could potentially have some success as an author judging by the sheer drama he pens on the Facebook group! Here is an excerpt…
“Warning…the following material is not suitable for those of a nervous disposition!
Our season of spring horror films continues with today’s presentation of “Nightmare on Netheroyd Hill Rd”. A group of innocent, happy go lucky volunteers decide to do “a spot of litter picking”. Little did they know the horrors that were about to descend upon them: deep rooted litter from years of neglect, heavy rain showers, thick brambles and Haps jokes!! Many have been left too traumatised to speak of their experience”
Perhaps we can persuade him to join us at Huddersfield Times?
Hap was keen to inform us of another intrepid litter picker, a lady called Eileen from Outlane. She’s forgotten more about litter picking than you or I can ever hope to learn.
At the beginning of Lockdown 1.0, Eileen was appalled at the amount of litter she would see on her walks, so borrowed a litter picker and set to work clearing verges in the local area. This escalated into a 6 mile route that she undertakes every single day, and includes Scapegoat Hill and Holme Moss. In the last year she has only missed 4 or 5 days, spending 2-3 hours each day litter picking.
Locals have taken notice seeing her around each day, and have offered assistance, helped provide bin bags (which Eileen was previously buying herself), and offered their bins so that she can deposit bin bags in rather than carrying them on her entire route. Some residents did a collection in the run-up to Christmas to gift Eileen with a bouquet of flowers and some vouchers as a token of their appreciation.
She said “I wanted to improve our environment and make it look better. It is gratifying to see so many people being appreciative of what I am doing.”
Eileen feels that the culture and attitude towards rubbish needs to change, saying that “some people think it’s OK” to drop their rubbish. The amount seen around all parts of Huddersfield certainly indicates that many people think that someone else will come along and clean it up. If it weren’t for volunteers like Hap and Eileen, we’d be in a much worse state.
Aware of issues some households have regarding disposal of waste, Eileen thinks that the council could make it easier for people to “do the right thing” and take their waste to the tip, such as streamlining the registration process or making allowances for trade vehicles being used as personal vehicles to drop off household waste.
Keen to highlight further benefits of litter picking, Eileen said “I would actively encourage others to get out and about, improve their fitness and do something positive for the community. It can also boost your mental health as well as seeing the end result of the local environment being clear”.
Editor’s note: Over the last 3 months we have come across fantastic groups and individuals going out there to clean up Huddersfield. But the problem isn’t going anywhere. What do you think needs to be done?