While some give up sweet treats or chocolate for Lent, one schoolgirl went on an extreme litter picking challenge – to honour the memory of Captain Sir Tom Moore.
Heather Kent, 13, was horrified by the amount of rubbish on her local streets and the danger it can pose to animals.
After being inspired by Captain Tom’s feat of fundraising for NHS charities, she made it her mission to collect 100 bags of rubbish over Lent, which began on February 17 and ends today.
Heather Kent, 13, was horrified by the amount of rubbish on her local streets and the danger it can pose to animals. She is pictured above with her mother Julie
It comes as the Daily Mail helps to launch Keep Britain Tidy’s Great British Spring Clean, asking readers to pledge to clean up our landscape and restore pride in our country.
More than 49,000 people have already signed up.
Heather, who hopes to one day become a wildlife presenter, said that she felt pushed to do something about the state of her local area in Fairford, Gloucestershire, after realising the litter could harm animals.
She said: ‘I just hate the fact that a human action that people don’t even think about – they just throw something out the window or drop it on the floor – can kill an animal. It just hurts that people can feel like they can do that.’
Heather, who hopes to one day become a wildlife presenter, said that she felt pushed to do something about the state of her local area in Fairford, Gloucestershire, after realising the litter could harm animals
She has managed to inspire thousands who follow her journey on her social media pages, named A Bag A Day Keeps The Litter Away. Her efforts have gained her followers around the world, with some supporting her from as far away as California.
For the third year in a row Heather wanted to litter pick for Lent but feared that this year’s Covid-19 regulations might derail her plan.
However, she still aimed to pick up 100 bags over the 40 days and would pick up rubbish every day the Covid regulations would allow her to.
Heather found plenty of rubbish to meet her target, from discarded clothing, televisions and mobile phones to bottles, cans and even a 46-year-old crisp packet.
She filled 100 bags just under a week ago and continued to litter pick for six more days before Lent ends today.
In total, she managed to fill 112 bags of litter from her local roads, lay-bys and ditches.
In doing so, she also raised more than £2,000 for Great Western Hospital in Swindon.
Heather said: ‘My main goal over the whole of Lent was to pick up 100 bags in memory of Captain Sir Tom. I think he was a really important person and it was just a way to connect to him.
‘It kind of made me feel that I related to him because I think he’s a really inspiring person and what he did was absolutely amazing. I’m raising money for Great Western Hospital as well. I think raising money for the NHS is really important so that’s why I decided to do it in memory of him, as well as it being a goal for me.’
She added: ‘I could not have given up chocolate for Lent! Litter picking is so much more of a challenge. It gets you out in nature and to look at your surroundings and be thankful for what you have.’
While Heather encouraged people around her to pick litter with her, because of social distancing during this year’s mission she was accompanied only by her mother Julie, 42, a retail assistant manager, or her painter-decorator father Bob, 59.
Mrs Kent said: ‘Both her dad and I are extremely proud of what she’s doing. It’s just amazing.
‘I honestly didn’t think she would reach the target and she did it with a few days to go.’ She added that Heather had made sure they completed their daily litter pick ‘come rain or shine’.
‘We’ve been very lucky this year, I think we’ve only been out twice when it’s been raining. We’ve done it in the snow in the past,’ she said.
Since joining secondary school, Heather said it has been harder to encourage her peers to join her because they ‘don’t find it cool’.
But she added the project has been rewarding, saying: ‘It makes me feel like I’ve achieved something, when I pick up a plastic bottle. That can save many animals, just picking up that one piece of litter.
‘For people who want to pick up litter, just do it. If you do, it will get you angry because it gets to me sometimes. Sometimes it’s hard to process how much you’ve picked up. But don’t let that stop you because litter picking is such a fun thing to do and you are looking after the environment.
‘Even if you only pick up one piece of litter, it’s absolutely amazing and making a big difference.’