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Hi-vis heroes clearing 3,000 bags of rubbish a year from the streets of their Doncaster village

Fred Turner, Barry Pearson and Lee Davey, are helping clear up Stainforth as members of Stainforth Environmental Regeneration Volunteers
Fred Turner, Barry Pearson and Lee Davey, are helping clear up Stainforth as members of Stainforth Environmental Regeneration Volunteers

With their trademark high vis caps and jackets, they are becoming a familiar sight on the streets of Stainforth.

And the volunteers of the group SERV - Stainforth Environmental Regeneration Volunteers - reckon they are starting to have an impact on the streets of their home town.

Set up last year, SERV's dedicated members trek the streets of their town two mornings a week, complete with a collection of bin bags and litter pickers.

Some days there are just two of them - others there have been more than half a dozen. But either way, they bring tonnes of litter off the streets.

The amount they pick up each week may vary, but those who take to the streets on Mondays and Thursdays, in custom made baseball caps and jackets, reckon they pick up 50 to 60 bags a week on average. That means around 2,500 to 3,000 bags a year.

Once they have taken the litter off the streets, the council comes to pick it up from their base on Church Road, at the Stainforth 4 All building, which houses their local library.

Some of the waste has to be left for Doncaster Council to deal with. When they encounter big items which have been fly-tipped, they call them in. This can include fridge-freezers, settees, and old bikes, often found in back alleys, dumped away from view.

Among those who are at the forefront of the clear-up is Barry Pearson, aged 62, from Thorne Road, Stainforth.

Barry had been long term unemployed before he signed up to be a member of the group, after finding out about its work through the Job Centre.

He takes great pride in have a part to play in tidying up the town - but he also feels that getting involved has been a big help in his life.

It is his first job. When he become involved in the project, he was living alone in a caravan in the town. When he first started, he was just another volunteers. But when his fellow volunteers found about his situation, they stepped in to help him.

They realised he had no family, and was living alone, eating just one meal a day.

Social workers become involved to help him, and he is now living in a bungalow. Barry said: "I'm much fitter now, and I'm much better off where I am living. The people here are now like family to me."

He often stays around in the library after finishing his litter picking work for the companionship, and feels this is the thing that has given him the most pleasure from the work.

"People say we're doing a good job, and that gives me a lot of pride," he added.

Lee Davey, aged 50, of Bootham Crescent, Stainforth, also volunteers with the group after hearing of its work through the Job Centre.

"I came in after I was laid off by a recycling company. I came in off my own bat for something to do," he said. "I saw it at the job centre and asked if it would be all right for me to do it.

"There are lots of opportunities to volunteer in charity shops and the like, but not so many to do something outdoors, like this. I'm with a good bunch, and we're keeping the streets tidy.

"When I'm out and about, people see you and tell you you're doing a good job. It's satisfying to see that you've done that."

Joining them on the street is Fred Turner. Fred is now chairman of SERV, and played a role in setting it up.

The 69-year-old spent 20 years as a nurse in the Royal Army Medical Corps, before returning home to Stainforth. Back in civilian life, he worked in Doncaster Council-run care homes including Haynes House, in Thorne, and Home Covert, in Bentley, before retiring.

He said the reason the group was set up was because Stainforth had been suffering from a litter problem, and litter pickers were not around because of local authority budget cuts.

Initially, many people did not realise they were volunteers, and members of the public would tell them the should be picking up litter on certain streets. Their jackets now make the voluntary nature of the work clear.

Fred was keen to get on the streets after he had a hip removed last summer. For five months he had no hip. It meant he had little mobility, and during that time, he piled on weight, reaching 18 stone.

Since then, on the back of his street work, he has lost five stone.

"We were not happy about the way Stainforth looked, and we felt we could do something about it," he said. "If we had a bigger group, we could do even more."

The volunteers also do work on planters, and would like to do more work on tidying flower beds if they had sufficent numbers.

But they do believe that Stainforth's litter problem has lessened since they started their work.

"This is part of my retirement," said Fred, "I really enjoy it, although I may not say that sometimes after I've come in after a long morning's work."

Anyone interested in joining SERV can call 01302 618070, drop in at Stainforth4All or message them on Facebook.