Community award for Wigan volunteer who leads army of litter pickers

A hard-working volunteer keeping the streets of Wigan tidy has been recognised for her “sense of civic duty”.
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Rachel Heyden was nominated for the Heart of the Community Award by the Douglas ward councillors for her work setting up Wigan Litter Pickers and her wider efforts in the community.

She started the litter-picking group during lockdown, after learning that Wigan Council would provide free equipment for people to tidy up their local area.

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Rachel Heyden receives the Heart of the Community Award from Mayor of Wigan Coun Kevin AndersonRachel Heyden receives the Heart of the Community Award from Mayor of Wigan Coun Kevin Anderson
Rachel Heyden receives the Heart of the Community Award from Mayor of Wigan Coun Kevin Anderson
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She invited the whole community to join and under Rachel's leadership the Facebook group has grown to more than 1,500 members.

The volunteers tackle littering and fly-tipping all over the borough, with group picks and individual picks.

They have also organised children's awards and talks in schools, and ordered free equipment, while Rachel has personally delivered equipment to residents across the borough.

Coun Pat Draper became involved with the group during the pandemic and, after meeting Rachel, she contacted the council's environmental department to discuss ways they could work together.

Rachel Heyden, right, collects the Heart of the Community Award from Douglas councillors and Mayor Coun Kevin AndersonRachel Heyden, right, collects the Heart of the Community Award from Douglas councillors and Mayor Coun Kevin Anderson
Rachel Heyden, right, collects the Heart of the Community Award from Douglas councillors and Mayor Coun Kevin Anderson
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Through the group, Rachel supports three youngsters to obtain their Duke of Edinburgh Award.

She also serves as a school governor, championing youngsters with special educational needs and/or disabilities and the sports premium for children.

Rachel said: "I love living here and want other people to love it too. We are so lucky to live here and I will support anyone to do the right thing."

Mayor of Wigan Coun Kevin Anderson presented Rachel with the glass award in his parlour at Wigan Town Hall.

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She also received a certificate signed by council leader Coun David Molyneux, cabinet member for communities Coun Chris Ready and Douglas ward councillors Pat Draper, Mary Callaghan and Matt Dawber.

At the award ceremony, Rachel was accompanied by her family, friends and other leading members of Wigan Litter Pickers, including Jude Lyon-Honor, Victoria Gray and Kath Hodkinson.

In a statement, councillors Draper, Callaghan and Dawber said: “All in all, we would like to say a huge thank you to Rachel and the other members of Wigan Litter Pickers for their sense of civic duty, in helping to keep our town clean and tidy all year round.

"Our thanks also go to Mayor Coun Kevin Anderson for hosting us so warmly and presenting Rachel with the award.”