Coronavirus inspires Hampstead woman to combine cleaning up the Heath and fundraising for the Royal Free

PUBLISHED: 08:30 30 April 2020 | UPDATED: 13:53 30 April 2020

Emma Lumsden with her dog out litter-picking on the Heath. Picture: Emma Lumsden

Emma Lumsden with her dog out litter-picking on the Heath. Picture: Emma Lumsden


One Hampstead Heath dog-walker was so fed up with the litter she has been encountering during daily exercise that she decided to take matters into her own hands – and combine it with an innovative way of fundraising for the Royal Free Charity too.

Emma Lumsden with her dog out litter-picking on the Heath. Picture: Emma LumsdenEmma Lumsden with her dog out litter-picking on the Heath. Picture: Emma Lumsden

English Language teacher Emma Lumsden, 47, was fed up of encountering growing amounts of detritus during walks with her bichon frise dog, Percy.

She told the Ham&High: I live two minutes from the Heath, and I walk on there once or twice a day. During lockdown, and before actually, I’ve just noticed more and more litter building up and it was really frustrating me. So I thought I should do something about it.”

Emma is fundraising for the Royal Free Charity by asking friends and well-wishers alike to sponsor her litter-picking efforts each day on the Heath – where she’s using her allowed time outside, with the dog, to help tidy up.

She added: “Like everyone else I have been feeling frustrated at home about being unable to really contribute very much. And the Royal Free is in the heart of Hampstead and I have a lot of experience with the hospital so it had been in the back of mind, this idea of giving back.

“I thought it was a good idea to fundraise and to try and educate others.”

Emma wanted to improve the reputation of dog-walkers, too. She said: “I wanted to dispel the myth that dog walkers are irresponsible on the Heath, and also show that anyone can contribute something to their communities – no matter how small – during their daily routines during lockdown. Whether that be time, money, or just acknowledging the value of both the Heath and the Royal Free Charity during this crisis.”

Emma has smashed her original £100 target, with fundraising now up to £360.

She said: “It’s been really flying.

“I only thought I’d get about £100 but we have now got more than £300. I’ll keep the campaign going for another week or so, but then after that I think I’ll continue picking up rubbish.”

To contribute to Emma’s crowdfunding, visit

The Royal Free Charity’s urgent Covid-19 appeal continues at

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