Not long after Doug and I had been introduced I started joining him at Tikipunga to walk Sophie, his Labrador. I was shocked at the amount of rubbish in the park. I had recently won a picker-upperer as part of a raffle prize and so we both started to pick up the rubbish. It is now three years since we started this and we still do it - usually five days a week as on Saturdays, after going to the Growers' Market, we walk part of The Loop at the Town Basin and I pick up and Doug has Sophie on a lead and on Mondays Doug takes Sophie for a walk around the streets near his house before we go on the walk with people with Parkinson's Disease.
A month or so ago a man who is often at the park exercising his dog asked if he could do an artlcle on us for the local paper. He then discovered that other people pick up rubbish as well although there is still plenty for us to pick up - six buckets full just recently.
His article finally appeared in Saturday's edition but as a letter to the editor. It is good to know that people appreciate it.
Anyway, while I am seldom moved to air my opinions, I do feel very strongly that folk such as these deserve recognition for their humbling selflessness and for the very worthwhile contribution they make
Image Caption: Susan Vercoe and Doug Lee simultaneously exercising and beautifying at Tikipunga Sports Park
Article Heading: Unsung champions of beauty
I am very fortunate to be able to stroll in Tikipunga Sports Park early most mornings. Personally, I prefer rainy mornings with no wind: Some precipitation to cool my wildly energetic black dog; no gale to invert my umbrella's dignity. The only thing that detracts from this otherwise cleansing experience, is the significant volume of all sorts of carelessly discarded rubbish that mysteriously accumulates all over the place - it's almost as if the adequately provided rubbish bins are repelling the stuff.
During the several years that I have been visiting the park, I have become acquainted with other regular visitors. Many, like myself, go there to exercise their dogs, some to exercise themselves. Yet there are others who simultaneously exercise themselves and clean the park! These wonderfully community-minded 'champions of beauty' take it upon themselves to traverse the park in virtually all weathers, collecting rubbish into bags and buckets as they go with special reacher-grabber tools, then posting it all in the (undoubtedly astonished) rubbish bins.
At first, I observed only one couple doing this, but then I started visiting the park at various other times of the day and discovered that there are in fact quite a few doing this - both singly and in groups. The other thing that struck me was how very cheerful and apparently happy all these people are. I have subsequently made several modest rubbish collecting forays myself, and far from being a drudgery, it is actually quite satisfying and therapeutic once you get into it.