Alison McDuff, a participant in Landmark Education’s Self-Expression and Leadership Programme, has been living in the North Dublin seaside town of Skerries for several years. Skerries harbour is a major landing port for Dublin Bay prawns and in season is a hive of activity. A large colony of grey seals resides in and around the harbour, which is also the location of the sailing club and several of the town’s restaurants and pubs. Skerries has a long sandy beach, ideal for children and safe bathing, patrolled by lifeguards during the summer. A grass promenade runs the length of the beach, joining it to Red Island Scenic Park, which has fine views and a free children’s playground.
Passionate about the environment, Alison determined to have her beloved town be a place of which to be proud. Spearheaded by her own children and husband, she met with groups of young people from the area. The children of Skerries immediately took on Alison’s project amd set about enrolling their parents to partner with them in cleaning up their local beach.
The result was that on the designated day, 40 children and 30 adults descended on the beach and collected 36 bags of rubbish and two bags of recyclable cans. The local Community Association took ownership of the project and the local County Council organised a special collection for the bags the following morning. An Taisce provided all the bags, gloves and litter pickers, and paid for refreshements.
Many different groups got involved and contributed. The Sailing Club took on the provision of tea, coffee and biscuits and presented certificates at the celebration party. Deputy Sargent of the Green Party also attended on the day. Local businesses joined together in the project, and now the Sea Scouts are also involved.
The Chamber of Commerce undertook to make it an annual event. The council is asking what it can provide in the long term and have already increased the number of litter bins and provided benches and swimming points. The Skerries beaches have since acquired a 1 year European blue Flag and Clean Coast award.
Alison McDuff knows that our future lies with our children and this achievement proves that, given a chance, a voice and a slight nudge they can even make it happen now.