independent

Wednesday 17 July 2019

Keeping Bray clean and tidy requires a major team effort

Looking after Bray isn't a one-man job and involves the efforts and skills of many groups and organisations, as Coastcare chairman Séamus Connor tells Mary Fogarty

The chairman of Bray's 'Coastcare' organisation Séamus Connor has praised the work being done by a number of groups in the town to keep the area clean and tidy, in what he says is very much a 'team effort'. He is also inviting people to come forward to help with an environmental education programme for young people.

Coastcare Bray was founded in 2007 after Séamus was embarrassed by the sheer amount of litter on Bray Head.

'Rather than sit and moan about it, knowing that this would not solve the problem, I put an advert in the Bray People asking for volunteers to help clean up Bray Head,' said Séamus.

'The following Saturday we had 12 local people out. I managed to get a free skip from Greenstar. After three hours of hard slog we managed to remove 42 large sacks of rubbish. We filled a whole skip. The volunteers were so pleased with the job we had done they asked me could we do it on a regular basis. It was around this time that Philip Byrne got in touch with An Taisce asking about setting up a group to tackle the rubbish situation in Bray. Aidan Gray from An Taisce got in touch with me and put me in contact with Philip. We met up together and the result was the birth of Bray Coastcare Group, as part of the An Taisce Clean Coasts initiative.'

They are still going strong 12 years later and have over 350 volunteers on their email list. 'One happy "complaint" is that we only collect, on average, four bags of litter at our monthly clean-ups now,' said Séamus. 'That is some improvement from a skip full of 42 bags,' he said.

Coastcare holds a clean-up on the second Saturday of each month from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. 'The volunteers have been fantastic,' said Séamus. 'Without them none of this would have been possible. Because of their hard, selfless work, Bray is a much cleaner and more beautiful place to live in and visit.'

Séamus said that keeping Bray clean and beautiful is not a one man job, or one organisation job. He said that there are many groups and individuals who play their part.

He mentioned An Taisce and their Clean Coasts Programme who bring out businesses such as Dell, Adobe, Air BnB, Google, Saleforce and Geocaching Ireland to volunteer for the day in Bray.

'Another group that play a big role in keeping Bray clean is Bray Tidy Towns who do trojan work around the town. I am delighted that they are back up and running and they are a great bunch of people with only Bray's best interests at heart.

'Bray Sea Life and their staff have held clean ups of Bray Beach with young and old taking part, and Bray Sea Scouts have done great work and are certainly playing their part in keeping our town ship shape,' said Séamus. 'Bray Sailing Club are also getting their hands dirty and cleaning up, fair play! The list goes on with many primary and secondary schools from Bray getting out and tidying up our wonderful coastline, thanks a million to all involved.'

Bob Galvin has been with Bray Coastcare since its inception, and he is a superstar in Séamus's eyes. 'He goes out with members of Sunbeam House Services every Monday morning to help clean up and keep Bray's Cliff Walk tidy. He also volunteers with Bray Tidy Towns.'

The Bray Municipal District staff do a fantastic job of keeping Bray and the coastal areas clean, according to Shay. 'I must say, in 34 years of living in Bray I have never seen it looking so clean and beautiful.

'This is a group effort. The lads who work along the promenade during the summer months do a fantastic job of keeping on top of any stray litter.'

Séamus said that he is setting up what he calls the 'Schools Environmental Awareness Programme' (SEAP).

He delivered a lesson on environmental awareness and responsibility to 6th class pupils two years ago and also to Delgany Cub Scouts. 'They loved it. You could literally hear a pin drop! I gave a 40-minute lesson and at the end invited the students to enter our Environmental Awareness Poster Competition where they had to design their own colourful poster promoting environmental awareness and responsibility.

'Then the students and scouts all came along to our next monthly clean up and I presented certificates to the winners. There was music and goodies for all. It was a great day. the posters were all brilliant and I think young people are not given enough credit for their environmental awareness and proactive ideas.'

His vision is to put together a panel of adults who are confident and comfortable enough to deliver a 40-minute environmental awareness and responsibility lesson to 6th class and transition year students in every school in Bray.

'If this is successful, I could see us rolling it out across the whole county of Wicklow and, who knows, it could even go further and spread across the whole of our island.

'If there are any ex teachers or just adults who are passionate about our environment and would like to volunteer, please email me at braycoastcaregroup@yahoo.com.

'If we all play our part, we can keep Bray beautiful.'

Bray People

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