It’s a beautiful Saturday morning at the beginning of March. I am standing on Aldeburgh beach in the wind from the North Sea, feeling the curves and points of battered flints and pebbles beneath my feet. And to nearly quote the Alanis Morisette song, I have one hand in my pocket circling a roll of black plastic bin bags between my fingers, whilst the other holds the lead of my black Labrador, Fletcher. I have made several trips to the car and set up a meeting point complete with litter picking implements, clipboards, pencils, surveys and, of course, some fetching tabards.
Sure enough I see the first Ipswich Building Society member arriving. Close behind them, other members and my colleagues arrive into the car park. I greet the first member and thank them for joining the event. We stand together, looking out to the infamous Scallop dedicated to Benjamin Britten and – much to his delight – Fletcher is the centre of attention, even being treated to the odd bone shaped treat or two.
I say thank you to everyone for coming along and outline the plan along with health and safety details of the day. We pause for a photo, joined by the Society’s CEO Paul Winter, and Therese Coffey MP, then set to work.
We start to walk the beach, slowly dividing into different groups, determined by conversations and pace of walking. It’s a pleasant couple of hours and the time passes quickly as the various members amble and chat and we collect the unwanted detritus of others as we go. As each group or individual decides to finish their walk, they return to the meeting point to drop off their ‘finds’. The last members hands me their bag at just before 12.30; they even stay to help me clear up and load the car.
At the end of it all I stand with Fletcher on the beach and reflect on what a caring, considerate and friendly bunch I had the pleasure of sharing my morning with. It’s been a good few hours, I’ve met some lovely people, exercised Fletcher (and myself) and been part of a good deed for local people and wildlife. I weigh out the rubbish bags (13kgs), leave them at the pre-arranged collection point and set off home – ready for a well deserved cup of tea and a rest.