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Wexford man Sean Ferguson named Campaigner of the Year at Clean Coasts awards

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Sean Ferguson.

Sean Ferguson.

Wexford Clean Coasts Volunteer, Sean Ferguson, has been nominated for both the Individual of the Year award and the Campaigner of the Year Award for the 2022 Ocean Hero Awards

Wexford Clean Coasts Volunteer, Sean Ferguson, has been nominated for both the Individual of the Year award and the Campaigner of the Year Award for the 2022 Ocean Hero Awards

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Sean Ferguson.

goreyguardian

Sean Ferguson’s commitment to coastal protection has been recognised as the Ballymoney resident has been awarded the Campaigner of the Year title at the Clean Coasts Ocean Hero Awards.

Sean, who takes part in daily beach cleans in Ballymoney and across the county, was also nominated in the Individual of the Year category. The win and nomination come following seven years of daily beach cleans and campaigning for coastal protection.

“I have always been near water in Ireland or abroad growing up. You walk on the beach and notice rubbish over there but then pass it by, saying ‘it's not mine’. Then on day three of walking the same beach, you notice the rubbish is still there and realise you can go and get a bag and clean it yourself,” he said. “I discovered Clean Coasts through social media and realised there is actually a group doing this. Then I discovered the Two Minute Beach Clean, who do a phenomenal job. I realised there is a huge amount of people who really care about beaches and what is on beaches. I am connected to a lot of people across the planet. I will never meet them but we are always having a laugh about what we find on beaches, the weird and the wonderful.”

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"I can find anything, from a plastic bottle cap to vibrators,” he continued. “The weekend just gone, I found two fluorescent lightbulbs. I’ve found false teeth, I’ve found watches, I’ve  found iphones, and a ridiculous amount of children’s toys.”

While some of the items that Sean discovers during his daily cleans are not pleasant, he describes the experience of doing an early morning beach clean as “like free therapy”.

I have no social media, no emails, no phone calls. It is just me and Molly my dog.”

Prior to taking part in beach cleans, Sean became a sea swimmer – a hobby he adopted in a desperate attempt to get relief from back pain.

“I started swimming years way before I started beach cleaning because a disc in my back popped out. It was either an operation or hit the water, so I hit the water. The pain is completely gone now. And what the sea has given me personally  led me to saying, ‘thanks nature you fixed me so let me help to try fix you’,” he said.

According to Clean Coasts, the Campaigner of the Year category is an acknowledgement of the individuals and groups who have engaged with and helped spread awareness about the work of Clean Coasts and their key campaigns – Think Before you Flush and the #2minutebeachclean. They are the voices championing the importance of reducing marine litter in their local areas and wider region.

Sinead McCoy, Clean Coasts Manager said: “For the past 15 years, the Clean Coasts programme’s Ocean Hero Awards have been celebrating the incredible efforts of Clean Coasts volunteers around the Irish Coastline. We have nothing but awe and respect for the amazing groups and individuals highlighted in our shortlist for this year's Ocean Hero Awards. We were delighted to have received so many inspirational nominations that show not only the true dedication of these coastal custodians, but also that their efforts don’t go unnoticed by the

community.”


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