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Dynamic volunteer duo of senior citizens in Greenford collect 2,000 sacks of rubbish helping to clean up the town in just one year

Two senior citizens in Greenford who joined forces to rid the town of rubbish in October 2021 have celebrated their 2,000th sack of rubbish being collected.

The partners in grime, Gayle Labib and Noel I St Clair-Adelaja started cleaning the area’s streets and parks and among the changes they have made is turning a rubbish hotspot into a garden.

Gayle says litter picking has also been great for keeping fit and doing something important for society: “Instead of walking aimlessly around the park to get my daily 10,000 steps in, I decided to do something. I joined LAGER Can – the Litter Action Group for Ealing Residents. Walking and litter picking made me feel as if I was doing something productive while keeping fit.”

In October 2021, Noel wanted in and they become a dynamic duo. Gayle revealed: “At first we found it hard because the bags were so heavy.  We were two OAPs with sore backs!”

To ease their load, Noel and Gayle slowly walk with their rubbish sacks which are put on a fly-tipped pram and a trolley provided by LAGER Can. They log their daily haul of rubbish and reward themselves with tea and cake at a local cafe after filling every 100th sack.

Gayle revealed the logistics of their litter collecting. “We do three routes a week around North Greenford. We’re out on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday for at least three hours. Sometimes we will add days if we’re alerted to litter in a different area.”

Gayle shared details of one of their many successes – creating a Garden

“The area around Rockware Avenue was a nightmare and a complete disgrace and needed some serious work to make it presentable. It was the eyesore of Greenford. One area at the entrance to Greenford Business Centre is a meeting place for drinkers who throw their bottles and cans everywhere. We asked the manager if we could plant flowers at the entrance on a small patch of land. In March we started digging it up, finding cans dating back to 2013. We used old tyres as planters. So our garden was born!”

She added: “Flowers and kept land seem to deter litter. I would say there is now a 99% reduction in litter. We’ve recycled a dumped kitchen bin and most of the drinkers are now using it for their bottles and cans.”

In another success, the pair have installed a fly-tipped rubbish bin in Cayton Green Park, which is being used by visitors in addition to the three official Ealing Council bins.

Reflecting on their year-long campaign to make Greenford greener, Noel says: “We make a good team. Gayle’s the boss but I have better eyesight. I’m more flexible and can reach things that are far away. She’s always shouting at me to get out of the bushes in case I hurt myself!”

One thing the duo would like to see is public toilets. Gayle said: “We love our litter picking sessions for LAGER Can. They give us something to get out of bed for, friendship and a purpose in life. The only thing we really hate is the number of human poos and tissues in the bushes. I’m afraid we avoid those. We need public toilets in the area.”

LAGER Can chair Cathy Swift said: “I can’t thank Gayle and Noel enough. If every local area was blessed with such a dynamic duo, the Borough of Ealing would be a cleaner and greener place.”

For more information on LAGER Can and to get involved, click here.

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