IN nearly two decades voluntarily removing litter from Mossley’s highways and byways, David Chadwick has found many unexpected items.
There have been a few tenners and £20 quid notes along with the fag packets, fast food wrappings, nitrous oxide canisters, mobile phone, even bottles of wine and whisky.But the time he discovered a man in a distressed state from a fall into the Huddersfield Narrow Canal proved his most satisfying find.
“Had I not been there I am convinced he would have died,” said David, 80.
“He was wet through and freezing to death. I got help from Andy at Mossley Motors who took the chap back to the garage and put his heaters on and phoned the ambulance.
“One of the crew said had he not been found within an hour he would have been dead.”
Happily, David’s daily walks near his home in bottom Mossley are less eventful as he removes the rubbish far less considerate members of the community leave behind.
His selflessness has now been rewarded with a letter of recognition by the Lord-Lieutenant of Greater Manchester, Sir Warren J Smith KVCO KStJ JP.
Grateful neighbours from Queen St Mills joined forces to put David’s name forward before Tameside borough and Mossley town councillor Jack Homer presented the proud pensioner with his civic tribute.
“I was very surprised and when the councillor called I thought it was a big wind-up I didn’t take him seriously until he said ‘when do you want me to come and present the award?
David started his one-man war on litter shortly after moving into his present home in 2002.
“I would walk the dog a couple of times a day, generally on the canal,” he told the Correspondent.
“It was such a shame to see the towpath littered with tin cans, bottles and pieces of rubbish people had dropped.
“Slowly but surely, I picked things up, at first by hand and then using a picker.“Since then I have carried it on on a daily basis. I am retired, my wife died eight years ago and now I do a lot of walking, probably 80-90 miles a month.”
He would relish other locals following his example or make his efforts redundant by not dropping rubbish in the first place.
“When I was a lad if I dropped a piece of paper on the floor my mother would have clipped me round the ear and said, ‘Pick it up and take it home’.
“That no longer happens. Kids don’t bother and a lot of parents ignore it. It is not priority sadly. I would love to see more people doing what I do.”