by Andy Devine
The hard work of litter pickers Cula Murphy and members of the Friends of Leven River Valley has been recognised by SUSTRANS Scotland with a national award.
Inspired by an ‘Adopt a Road’ scheme in Ireland, Cula contacted West Dunbartonshire Council’s Greenspace team to suggest setting up an ‘Adopt a Mile’ group along the River Leven.
While on her travels along the cycle path, Cula got to know several solo pickers and formed the Friends of Leven River Valley.
The group now has around 15 members who work in pairs or larger groups in more remote areas along the six miles of the River Leven cycle path between Dalreoch Station and Balloch Slipway.
They have been particularly helpful in identifying locations where building waste and tyres are fly-tipped along the cycle path by unscrupulous individuals.
Cula was presented with a Celebrating Inspirational Volunteering Award by Hannah Taylor, Network Engagement officer with SUSTRANS.
Hannah said: “SUSTRANS are delighted to recognise Cula and the Friends of Leven River Valley for their inspirational volunteering.
“The group make an enormous, visible difference to their local paths, keeping them safe and beautiful for everyone to enjoy.
“It has been a pleasure to see the equipment the group received through our Love Your Network grant put to brilliant use.
“Thank you again to all of the group for the time they give, which in turn encourages more people to walk, wheel and cycle on clean and enjoyable local routes.”
“You Just Have To Do Something”
Cula said she was very humbled to be getting all this attention, pointing out the group do most of the ‘heavy lifting’.
She said: “I walk a lot for enjoyment so seeing litter scattered about was so annoying – you just have to do something.
“When you see a large load of rubbish which a group of people have removed from the river, the banks, and the woods it does make you feel a bit more positive.
“You know litter will gather again which is such a shame, but there are so many people passionate about removing it and helping us to remove it.
“One group puts you in touch with another group and it all builds together – it just works!
“It does become compulsive though so leaving the litter pick at home is necessary sometimes, but you clock the bad spots anyway.
“Talking to the group I think we all feel the same”.
The group is always looking for new methods of removing items from more remote stretches of the river and in recent months have trialled extra-long litter picks, four wheelbarrows, grappling hooks and a bicycle trailer.
They also support the Friends of Dumbarton Foreshore Litter Group, Loch Lomond Angling Improvement Association and Loch Lomond Fisheries Trust with events throughout the year.
These included a two-day event along the Leven with teams from the Friends groups, Fisheries Trust and Angling Club sited at regular intervals along the river to clear rubbish.
Large items were brought ashore on boats by the Angling Club then transported to skips provided by WDC waste services.
Andy Devine, WDC Community Greenspace Officer, commented: “As individuals the group members have achieved a lot in their own right.
“I feel that having someone like Cula to link it all together and develop partnerships at a local and national level has made a bigger difference in their local area than they would have achieved if working on their own.”
If you are interested in supporting these events or want to find out more about volunteering in the West Dumbarton area please contact 01389 608413 or email firstname.lastname@example.org