Words by Ed King
On Thursday 24 May, Erdington Litter Busters (ELB) received a Lord Mayor’s Award for their services to Erdington.
The group also look after a 3.5 mile track of canal and run their ‘Adopt a Street’ programme, where individual members litter pick around where they live – the initiative currently has around 200 streets ‘adopted’ across Erdington.
A social group as well and an enterprise, the Erdington Litter Busters also meet for ‘a friendly coffee and chat’ after each monthly litter pick, tend a local allotment together, and can be seen involved in countless other community groups – from street paintings to saving playing fields.
Nominated for the Lord Mayor’s Award by Cllrs Robert Alden and Gareth Moore (Local Conservatives, Erdington) and Cllr Mick Brown (Labour, Gravelly Hill), Erdington Litter Busters were notified of their success in a special letter from the Lord Mayor’s office at the end of April.
One of the last duties before his yearlong term came to an end, Birmingham’s erstwhile Lord Mayor Muhammad Afzal presented two of the ELB founders, Dawn Edwards and Rob Gunnell, with the award in the Council Chamber at the Birmingham Council House in Victoria Square.
Given annually by the exiting Lord Mayor, the awards recognise individuals and organisations who have ‘improved the reputation’ of Birmingham or ‘improved the lives of a great number of people’ in the city.
The nomination criteria highlight the awards will only be given to honour “outstanding achievement or exceptional service to the City and people of Birmingham”.
Joining Dawn and Rob at the awards ceremony were the three local councillors who nominated the group, and who have all put party politics aside for the good of the community and joined the ELB on numerous ‘clean ups’.
Many political wards across Erdington are blighted by roadside rubbish, illegal fly tipping, and waning Council waste disposal services – with virtually every candidate in the recent local elections highlighting the issue on their campaign trail.
After receiving the coveted award, Erdington Litter Busters Dawn Edwards and Rob Gunnell told Erdington Local:
“It also continues to be a huge privilege to be a part of a community initiative which started out four years ago and has now diversified significantly with other projects in the area.
“We very much appreciated being nominated by local councillors, Mick Brown, Robert Alden and Gareth Moore, who have been supportive from the onset.
“It is our desire to build on our partnership with the City Council in a way which enhances our understanding of their plans and strategies for supporting community groups like ours”
Cllr Robert Alden commented: “We were delighted to jointly nominate Rob and Dawn for the Lord Mayor’s Award and were delighted to be there for the awarding of it. They have both done brilliant work for our area helping to tackle fly tipped rubbish, litter and graffiti.
“All of the litter busters do a wonderful job, and we have and continue to be very happy to support the group in any way we can to help us all show pride in Erdington.”
Cllr Gareth Moore said: “Congratulations to Dawn and Rob for all their brilliant efforts leading Erdington Litter busters. A massive thank you to everyone who also volunteers with the litter busters all your efforts are hugely appreciated.
“We have been delighted to work with all the litter busters over the last few years and look forward to continuing to do so in the years ahead – together we are all making a real difference to our local area.”
Cllr Mick Brown added: “You often hear stories in the media about people who have made a real difference in their communities but never expect to actually meet one; well in Dawn and Rob I have had the privilege of meeting not one but two.
“I never cease to be amazed at not only their commitment to personally making a difference but to their ability to inspire others to want to make difference as well.”