A litter picker who has helped clear 10,000kg of rubbish in Kettering has been recognised by the Prime Minister.
Nick Urquhart has been named as the 917th winner of the Points of Light award, which honours shining examples of voluntary work in the UK.
Nick, a nights colleague at Asda, decided to use his annual leave to tackle waste in 2011 after seeing litter build up by creating action group ‘SeeItPickItBinIt’.
Seven years and 10 tonnes of rubbish later - the majority of which is recycled - Nick is urging everyone to transform where they live.
He said: “I am absolutely thrilled that anyone could notice our group’s efforts and even more shocked to have won a national award for it.
“I think if you can say that you’ve left a place better than you’ve found it you are a small, but vital, force for positive change in your community.
“Most people are taught that walking past litter is just what you do, even when it is their rubbish that has fallen out of their recycling bins.
“Hopefully awards like this one act to make litter a more visible problem and give people the motivation to get out in their local streets and green spaces to transform the place in which you live.
“If everyone in Northants just looked after the small bit of street in front of their home we would have the best kept county in the UK.”
Nick, 45, spends about 20 hours each week picking litter in his own time and estimates he’s put in 7,000 hours in total so far.
He has come across almost everything imaginable, including used nappies and a dead dog.
Nick added: “We’ve found quite a few watches and items of jewellery as well.
“They’re normally near bridges so I think it’s where people break up and then chuck it.”
Nick encourages colleagues, volunteers and councillors to support him and raise money for local charities and specialist litter-picking equipment in the process.
This year, Nick has been inspired by the BBC’s Blue Planet 2 to concentrate on clearing plastic from local rivers.
Yesterday (Friday) he was presented with his award at Asda by the mayor of Kettering, Cllr James Burton, and Kettering MP Philip Hollobone.
Cllr Burton said: “If there were more people like Nick in this borough we certainly wouldn’t have to pay as much council tax.
“I hope to have a litter pick in my ward shortly and I will certainly be asking Nick to show us how it’s done.”
Mr Hollobone said: “Nick Urquhart is a local hero for all he is doing to help tidy up Kettering.
“I am delighted that his activities have reached the attention of No. 10 Downing Street and I am thrilled for Nick that the Prime Minister has deemed him worthy of this national award.
“Everyone in Kettering will want to send Nick our thanks and will take great pride in his achievement.”
In a personal letter to Nick, Prime Minister Theresa May said: “The clean-ups you organise are significantly reducing litter in Kettering and transforming your local community.
“Clearing more than 10,000kg of waste is a fantastic achievement, and I wish you the very best of luck in completing your challenge for this year.”
To donate to Nick’s group SeeItPickItBinIt, click here.
For more information on how to get involved, click here.