A ceremony will be held this Saturday, 25 September, to celebrate Longridge being awarded Plastic Free Community status by Surfer’s Against Sewer’s, a grassroots environmental charity which works across the United Kingdom.
The ceremony, which takes place at 4:30pm in Longridge’s Civic Hall, has been organised by Longridge Town Council and Longridge Environment Group, who worked in partnership to support the Plastic Free Project.
However this partnership only came about following the persuasive action of Jeannie Wilkson, who in May 2019, aged 8, wrote to Councillor Steve Ashcroft, then Mayor of Longridge, about single use plastic in the environment, saying, “We really must do something“.
Jeannie, a pupil at St Joseph‘s in Hurst Green, wanted the Council to declare Longridge a Plastic Free Town as promoted by the marine conservation charity Surfers Against Sewage (SAS).
Cllr Steve Ashcroft said, “Jeannie’s letter was well written, very persuasive and struck a chord with Councillors who readily agreed to begin the process of reducing single use plastic in the town.
“We think it’s a great achievement that we’ve managed to get where we are with the support of the Longridge Environment Group, and lots of support within the town, but the whole initiative is down to young Jeannie Wilkinson, so we’re grateful for Jeannie for her forethought and initiative in the first place.”
In October 2019, Jeannie, along with other young people, made presentations about a range of environmental issues at an Earth Day event at Longridge's Palace Cinema, which led to the formation of The Longridge Environment Group (LEG) who work towards achieving the objectives outlined by SAS and raise awareness of the wider environmental issues affecting the town.
Local businesses championed the project and moved away from plastic and non-recyclable packaging by encouraging customers to use refill cups to reduce waste, whilst local organisations, including Longridge High, St Cecilia’s RC High, the Agricultural Show Committee, the Civic Hall, the Women’s Institute and the local Co-operative also backed the project.
During Saturday's ceremony, Jeannie Wilkinson will formally present the current Mayor of Longridge, Cllr Bryan Dalgleish-Warburton, with a certificate confirming the town’s new status, celebrating the achievements of everyone involved.
The Mayor of Ribble Valley Cllr Tony Austin, and local children will also be in attendance, who in turn will be putting on presentations about environmental issues that they care about.
Rachel Yates, SAS Plastic Free Communities Project Manager, said: “It’s great to see the work that Longridge has done to reduce the availability of avoidable plastics, raise awareness and encourage people to refill and reuse”.
To find out more about Surfer’s Against Sewer’s visit their website.