Unstoppable litter picking couple receive town honour

A retired couple who picked up 280 bags of rubbish in six months have become the latest Boro Heroes.

Irene and Freddie McCormick go litter picking at least three times a week on Middlesbrough’s Easterside estate, with Irene saying “I love living on this earth and I don’t like seeing it like this”.

The mammoth effort began 12 months ago and the couple, from Marton Manor, only began tallying their litter picking haul in June last year.

Irene, 71, a retired nurse and Freddie, 76, a retired heavy goods vehicle driver, have now been given a Boro Hero award by Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston.

Explaining how they got started, Irene said: “It was about February last year I had an appointment at the hospital, it was a Monday and a really cold day and on our walk I said to Freddie I’ve never seen so much rubbish in all my life.

“I thought about it and said if it’s still there on Wednesday I am going to go and clean it up. It was and I went off myself and got six or seven bags.

“I took it to a friend’s who lives nearby and I asked if we could put some of it in their bin, but they’d seen a council worker with a lorry picking up rubbish.

“We asked him if we could leave this litter in the lorry and he was really nice to us and seemed really pleased.

“He gave us a litter picker and a load of green bags – then we went out all the time. Our kids went to Easterside school and we thought we would do that estate because we used to live there.”

Middlesbrough mayor Andy Preston said: “They are just brilliant people and I love them.

“If we had 100 people like Freddie and Irene the whole of Middlesbrough would be spotless and the world would be a better place.

“They quietly get on with it and never ask for praise and they deserve a round of applause from the whole town. I think they are true Boro heroes.”

Irene added: “We live on this planet and I love living on this earth and I don’t like seeing it like this. If everybody did something about it, it would make a difference. If I pick up a piece of litter that means a lot to me and a lot of people are grateful.

“We go when we can. I enjoy doing it three times a week but in the summer it was more than that I look after some older people and I do their shopping but in between then it’s like therapy – it’s nice to get out and walk.”

• To nominate your Boro Hero, visit www.middlesbrough.gov.uk/borohero Nomination forms will also be available at Community Hubs. For more information, email borohero@middlesbrough.gov.uk