Dog walker Aileen picks up litter prize

Aileen, right, receives her award from Georgina Massouraki, community project officer with Keep Scotland Beautiful.
Aileen, right, receives her award from Georgina Massouraki, community project officer with Keep Scotland Beautiful.
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A dog walker from Holytown has been recognised with a national award for her efforts to clear up litter in the village.

Aileen Stewart doesn’t only clean up after her pets, she also takes time to gather rubbish she finds along the way.

Now Aileen has been named the latest Clean Up Scotland Hero of the Month after a friend nominated her for the prize.

Picking up litter has come naturally to Aileen since she was a child and the environment is always at the forefront of her mind as she works as a senior administrative officer at the Scottish Environment Protection Agency at Eurocentral.

She explained: “I was fortunate enough to have been raised in the middle of a national forest park in the Trossachs.

“When we were young it was normal for my brother and I to take our bikes and pick up litter along our road which formed one of the many walking routes throughout the park. We didn’t think anything of it at the time.”

She walks regularly in the Shirrell Road area of Holytown with her two dogs and is dismayed when she sees litter blighting the open spaces.

Aileen said: “It’s worst when you see litter discarded just a couple of feet away from a bin. North Lanarkshire Council has a litter picker in the area, but he can’t do it all on his own.

“People need to realise that the ‘litter fairy’ doesn’t exist.

“Most local authorities do not have the resources to pick up litter anymore. It’s not that they want their towns looking the way they do. The sad fact is they shouldn’t have to be doing anything about it as it’s everyone’s responsibility to prevent it in the first place.”

Aileen has inspired others SEPA colleagues to tackle the problem too, with some offices now having their own litter picks during lunch breaks.

Derek Robertson, of Keep Scotland Beautiful, praised her efforts, saying: “Aileen sets a fantastic example. Her efforts go a long way in helping to demonstrate that local environmental efforts can make significant improvements to local communities.”