A grandmother has spent an entire year cleaning all plastic off 52 British beaches after making a New Year’s resolution to clean one sandy bay each week.
Pat Smith, 70, spent all of 2018 on Devon and Cornwall’s beautiful beaches each week – armed with bin bags, rubber gloves and a litter picker.
She travelled without fail from one end of the South West to the other, collecting litter in beauty spots from Coverack, Cornwall, to Blackpool Sands, Devon.
And even after a hectic year the married mother-of-two has no intention of stopping – saying that the beaches need her.
Pat, founder of the environmental campaign group Final Straw Cornwall, said: “Doing 52 beach cleans in 2018 was my New Year’s Resolution and it’s finally done.
“I won’t stop as our beaches need me.
“A lot of the rubbish I have picked up consists of everyday items. These things are used by all of us and it is shocking to find them polluting our beautiful beaches.
“Please let’s try to be more thoughtful in this coming year.
“I’m driven to try and protect our living planet for my children and grandchildren and I will continue to do everything in my power to achieve that.”
Pat said she was urged to take action after noticing the effects of plastic pollution, and she reflected back on her life.
She said: “I grew up in the generation where plastic use was at it’s worse. I lived through that, yet I lived the life campaigners are pushing for now.
“Even though it was everywhere, we had no plastic at home – we would walk to the shops or get the bus to get groceries.”
Pat said that she was often joined by other volunteers who were determined to keep our beaches clean.
But she said not everyone understood, and on some occasions, she would be mistaken for doing community service.
She said: “People don’t understand I’ve been doing this voluntarily.
“We should all take responsibility for picking up the litter, as well as ensuring we don’t drop litter in the first place.”
Along the way, Pat, who also runs a bed and breakfast in St Austell, Cornwall, joined with other campaigners.
She spent time with Martin Dorey, founder of the 2 Minute Beach Clean, and Wayne Dixon, who is walking the UK coast as an ambassador for Keep Britain Tidy.