Arran Beach Buddies formed to tackle marine litter

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The Isle of Arran and the Isle of Man have joined forces to tackle the issue of marine litter and beach cleaning with the announcement of the creation of Isle of Arran Beach Buddies.

The link-up is the first inter-island connection on beach cleaning expertise by the charity Beach Buddies which was formed in the Isle of Man in 2007 and is hoped to kick-start a network to share knowledge and statistics throughout the British and Scottish islands.

A team from Beach Buddies – a registered charity – recently visited Arran to meet local volunteers to join forces in beach cleaning sessions on the north west and southern coastlines.

The visit, made possible by support from the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, saw a team of 15 Beach Buddies’ officials and students from University College Isle of Man (UCIOM) arrive on Arran.

The UCIOM team, from the college’s Employability Skills Group, took part in three beach cleaning sessions during their four day visit which was largely paid for by their own fund-raising events on the Isle of Man.

The visit was described as ‘an outstanding success’ by Beach Buddies founder Bill Dale who received the British Empire Medal in 2017 from The Queen for services to the marine environment. The Isle of Man was also recently recognised by former Prime Minister Theresa May for having ‘the cleanest beaches in Europe.’

Bill added: ‘We have found that island communities are very committed to sorting out this problem, and we met some wonderful people on Arran who are keen to take a stand and set an example to the rest of the world.

‘In the Isle of Man we have had an exceptional response from the community’s 85,000 residents and we have registered 13,000 volunteers. We hope we can help inspire Arran residents to get together to so something special for their island.”

Beach Buddies has provided its expertise and advice to Isle of Arran Beach Buddies as the new group gains momentum, and it’s hoped that a presence in the Scottish Islands will potentially help to spread the word further afield about what can be achieved simply by people getting together because they care.

‘This was a really worthwhile trip,’ said Bill, ‘and I want to say a special thank you to the people of Arran for welcoming us and for your hospitality. We would also very much like to thank the Steam Packet Company for their considerable support and also to the UCIOM students who took part in numerous events to raise funds.

‘This is the first time we have given official permission to another group to use the name Beach Buddies and, judging by the number of other countries making contact, this definitely won’t be the last.

Lenny Hartley of Beach Buddies Arran said: ‘I walk Brodick beach most days with my collie and despite the efforts of many individuals the plastic, glass and other man made rubbish on the beach is very noticeable. As there had not been a clean on Brodick Beach since Hillary Paton organised one two years ago I thought about trying to organise regular cleans on all of the islands beaches.

‘I visit the Isle of Man regularly and had heard of Beach Buddies Isle of Man so I approached the founder Bill Dale to use the Beach Buddies name. Thanks to Bill for allowing us to use the name and sharing his expertise and expert ongoing advice.

‘Since I approached Bill I have become aware of several organisations on the island who carry out occasional beach cleans and I would like to say that Beach Buddies Arran is in no way attempting to take over the sterling work they do, nor indeed of those dedicated individuals who regularly pick up rubbish from the Arran beaches and coastline. If any organisation or individual on the island is planning a beach clean please send us a message on Facebook and we will help promote your event.

The first clean is scheduled for Brodick beach on Sunday August 4, at 10 am until approx noon, meeting at the Beach House adjacent to the putting green. Participants must bring their own gloves, families are welcome but children must be accompanied and dogs kept on a lead.