One man and his dog lead clean up of Oban beaches

The Oban Times - - News - DAVID McPHEE dm­cphee@oban­times.co.uk

A MAN who is walk­ing the coast of Bri­tain pick­ing up lit­ter as he goes vis­ited Oban ear­lier this week and or­gan­ised a lit­ter pick-up at the town’s beaches.

Wayne Dixon, 44, from Black­burn in Lanac­shire, set off from his home on Fe­bru­ary 1 to ful­fil his 20-year dream to walk the coast­line around the UK.

So far he has walked 1,200 miles, rais­ing around £4,000 for char­i­ties in the process.

Wayne, who walks and camps with his North­ern Inuit dog, Koda, has 6,000 miles to go and an­tic­i­pates that it may take them four years.

He or­gan­ises a lit­ter pick-up event in ev­ery town, vil­lage or city that he stops in and Wayne was joined by a few Oban vol­un­teers last week who helped clean the town’s beaches on Ge­orge Street and the Es­planade.

Wayne and Koda some­times re­ceive free ac­com­mo­da­tion from busi­nesses and kind-hearted in­di­vid­u­als as they go, and Oban was no ex­cep­tion.

Dur­ing their time in the town, they were in­vited to stay in the homes of res­i­dents via so­cial me­dia and re­ceived a free night’s stay in the Lan­caster Ho­tel.

Wayne was also in­vited to give en­vi­ron­men­tal talks at both Dun­beg and Achaleven pri­mary schools. The 44-year- old, who suf­fers from de­pres­sion, has been a hill­walker all his life, ever since his dad en­cour­aged him to take up the ac­tiv­ity.

‘My dad passed away four years ago,’ he said. ‘I am do­ing this for him. He left me a house, which I am rent­ing out, so that’s my bud­get.

‘I fi­nally have a chance to do it; you only live once. It’s a good plat­form to raise aware­ness about things I am pas­sion­ate about.

‘ We have to start tak­ing more pride. Peo­ple have to get rid of the at­ti­tude of “I pay my taxes; I’m keeping some­one in a job”. They need to be more proac­tive [in look­ing af­ter the en­vi­ron­ment].

‘At the end of the day, it’s us who live here. It seems like it’s some­one else’s re­spon­si­bil­ity, es­pe­cially a place like Oban that re­lies on tourists.

‘Five years ago, I lived on a farm and I would walk to the shop and see lit­ter.

‘I got re­ally an­noyed to the point that I was think­ing about putting up my own signs.

‘But then the penny dropped and I thought, “Ev­ery night I will pick up lit­ter on my way to the shop,” and when I did the anger stopped and I felt a feel­good fac­tor.’

Kay McDon­ald, town am­bas­sador, said: ‘I think what Wayne is do­ing is amaz­ing. I wish more peo­ple took that re­spon­si­bil­ity. In fact, I wish every­one took re­spon­si­bil­ity for their own lit­ter.

‘But the world is not like that, so to have peo­ple like Wayne to pick up the short­fall is amaz­ing.

‘ When we do lit­ter pick-ups in Oban, it’s the same peo­ple ev­ery week. We have a strong core group.

‘There are lots of peo­ple who do it in a quiet way. There’s a gen­tle­man in Oban who brings a bag when he goes out with his dog.

‘Some­times it seems over­whelm­ing, but peo­ple are go­ing about it.

‘I think dur­ing the sum­mer the lit­ter does get bad, but dur­ing the win­ter it’s not. But our pop­u­la­tion dou­bles in the sum­mer.

‘And it seems to be chip boxes, take­away con­tain­ers and cig­a­rette ends – it’s dis­gust­ing the stuff that comes off them and goes into the water. I think peo­ple are thought­less rather than de­lib­er­ately bad.’

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Wayne and Koda with the vol­un­teers who helped tidy the beach.

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