Organised by the Canterbury Society under the national ‘Great British Spring Clean’ initiative, the litter pick swept up a Russian flag, paddling pool, two supermarket trolleys and a Christmas tree as well as the usual detritus of hundreds of cigarette ends, beer cans and bits of plastic.
The Reverend Mark Griffin, rector of St Martin’s, represented the Cathedral and St Augustine’s as well when he thanked the group and served them coffee yesterday afternoon at the Longport Car Park. “It’s lovely that it means so much to Canterbury that people give up an afternoon to do this,” he told the Canterbury Journal. “It’s nice to know we’ve got help.”
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The spring clean of the Heritage Site area is the equivalent of going to the hairdressers before an important ceremony. In May, Canterbury will be formally celebrating 30 years on the register of the UK’s Heritage Sites. Only 27 other buildings have the same status in the UK — and only about 1,000 worldwide.
These include Durham Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, the Vatican and the site of Xanadu. Jan Pahl, chair of the Canterbury Society, told the gathering of the importance of keeping the site free from rubbish. “A lot of people go round the world only visiting the World Heritage Sites,” she said.
Among the group were eight students from the King’s School, coming from China, Russia and the UK. “The amount of rubbish we found was shocking,” said one of them, Tiffany, referring to the 30 bags that were collected. “If you are going to drink then throw the cans away properly,” said Anoushka, pointing to three bags of beer cans.
But she added: “I really enjoyed doing this.” The King’s School now joins the litter picks on a regular basis. Christina Astin, head of partnerships at the school, said that the litter pick fits in with other initiatives at King’s. “We have quite a campaign to reduce plastics use,” she said. “We are keen to do more in this area. We believe that part of their eduction should be about citizenship and pride. Canterbury is their home while they are here and we want it to look nice.”