WHEN 86 year old Barrie Saunders lost his wife, Sheila, of 67 years to Covid in 2020, he suddenly had a lot of time on his hands.

The former electrical communications engineer is originally from Hereford, but is now living in Cross Hills where he and his wife moved to be near their daughter, Mandy.

He found himself isolated much of the time. “It’s a bad time to become a widower,” said his daughter, Mandy.

“He couldn’t go to any of his usual groups, or even share a coffee and a hug with friends and family.

“I’m so proud of him and he’s so unassuming and modest.

“They moved up from Hereford to live near me when mum became very disabled in order that I could help with her care, but they have lived all over the world, including in unusual places like Papua New Guinea.

Despite his grief and finding himself alone most of the time, Barrie, as like many war generation folk who are made of sturdy stuff, aimed at getting on with his life. It was while on walks around Cross Hills that he noticed litter piling up and he commissioned his daughter to go out litter-picking with him.

A photo and a mention on the Facebook page for Cross Hills led to interest from many villagers and he now has a successful litter-picking group running, with 40 members.

He has also had the support of businesses in the area with donations of equipment from the Co-op, Yorkshire Housing and a sign company.

Barrie and his daughter are members of a UK wide network of litter pickers on Facebook who share tips and support. When his daughter posted his photo on the page, he received 868 likes and 130 positive comments.

“I’m so surprised,” he said when his daughter showed it to him.

“I’m not the sort of person who gets that sort of thing. I’m not doing anything special.”

The group, which formed in April, regularly shares ideas, photographs and invitations to join litter-picking sessions.

It is a public group and has amassed a strong following since its launch.

The group shares interesting information regarding litter, such as how long items take to decompose if they are left. Examples vary from a paper towel (two to four weeks) to plastic bags (200 to 1,000 years).

If you want to join Barrie and the other Cross Hills and Glusburn litter pickers you can find information on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/293798902380785