PM’s award for Strandliners

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In a personal letter to Andy Dinsdale, executive director of locally-based Strandliners Community Interest Company (CIC), Prime Minister Boris Johnson wrote last week: “Allow me to offer my own recognition of how you are mobilising an army of citizen scientists to record and eradicate the rubbish which blights our precious rivers and coastline.”

Dinsdale responded: “This award is as much for the many enthusiastic volunteers working [with] Strandliners who care as passionately about our marine environment as I do.”

In 2019, Strandliners volunteers devoted over 800 hours of their time to clearing debris from riverbanks and beaches in the Rye Bay area. The result? 870 kilos of waste collected, sorted and recorded.

Says Dinsdale: “It’s crucial to prevent this toxic waste – 70% generated inland, 50% domestic in origin, and mostly plastic – from entering our aqua and marine environments. Even more important is analysing what that waste is, recording our findings, and sharing them with our colleagues around the UK.”

Plastic washed up on the beach

He goes on: “In 2019, we conducted 26 scientifically-guided surveys in the area and finger-tip searches at strategic sites at regular intervals. The goal is to determine where the waste is coming from and stop it at its source.”

A new Strandliners initiative, launched in 2019, aims to train and deploy qualified citizen scientists across the Rother basin. These community action teams will serve as stewards of their local aqua environments and gather valuable data about the state of the district’s waterways.

As of now, all Strandliners’ activities have been suspended until further notice to protect volunteers from possible Covid-19 infection. More details at: strandliners.org

POINTS OF LIGHT

In 1990, George H.W. Bush, the 41st US President, was much mocked in the press for his 1,000 Points of Light initiative – another indication, papers and broadcasters claimed, of the out-of-touch president’s inability to grasp the disastrous impact a down-turned economy was having on ordinary US citizens. The 41st president didn’t survive; but his initiative did.

A looking-glass scheme was launched by then Prime Minister David Cameron in 2014. Its aim, to quote from the Office for Civil Society’s official blurb, is to provide a way “in which the prime minister says ‘thank you’ for your outstanding service” to individual volunteers across the UK. 1,353 Points of Light recognitions had been awarded as of Friday March 20. Dinsdale’s is the 1,354th.

Strandliners CIC will receive a certificate and a signed letter from the prime minister to acknowledge its award.

Image Credits: Sandy Spencer , Andy Dinsdale .

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