Selfless Muswell Hill walker collects 100th bag of rubbish during lockdown
PUBLISHED: 10:30 17 July 2020 | UPDATED: 18:21 17 July 2020
An 81-year-old woman has cleaned up 100 bags of rubbish around Muswell Hill and on Hampstead Heath on her morning strolls during the coronavirus lockdown.
Since March, Ruth Edwards has been out as early as 6.30am to walk around the parks in her area and drive to the Heath.
She noticed a lot of rubbish strewn around the green spaces and decided to take action, finding she could fill a black bag in about an hour’s walk.
Ruth aimed to collect 50 bags’ worth of rubbish on her strolls, but surpassed that goal in April and marked her 100th bag on July 12 with a small placard.
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“Part of me feels like stopping looking down all the time and looking up at the world, maybe birdwatching at the same time,” said Ruth.
“But I think I will carry on because it’s obviously a job that needs doing and it makes me feel so much better to look out across an open green space without seeing a mass of white litter.”
The retired teacher has also been a litter marshall for The Friends of the Parkland Walk for several years, cleaning up the area around four benches close to her home about once a week.
Photographer and semi-retired lawyer David Godfrey met Ruth while snapping wildlife for a Covid-19 series called Chasing the light in London’s Lockdown.
He said: “She’s an extraordinary character and I had this chance meeting with her at 6.30am about a month ago.
“She’s doing the most wonderful service, the litter problem is really appalling. It beggars belief to me that people who enjoy going out and having a picnic in the wild will leave plastic bottles and other litter after they have gone.
“I don’t understand that mentality. It’s everywhere, it’s endemic in our society - not just on the Heath.”
The Royal Parks has reported a surge in litter left in Regent’s Park during the lockdown, with staff collecting 58.94 tonnes in June alone - the equivalent of 17 elephants.
This is a 32 per cent rise compared to June 2019, and left items have included a Christmas tree and office furniture.
READ MORE: Litter equating to 17 elephants in weight collected in Regent’s Park during June
Ruth thinks she will keep collecting litter on morning walks until she can swim in Hampstead Heath’s Ladies’ Pond again, an activity which she has been doing regularly since the mid-1960s.
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