An eight-year-old schoolboy is trying to “save the world” by spending hundreds of hours picking up litter after the death of his beloved granny.
While Daniel Walker’s friends are out playing with other children, animal-lover Daniel chooses to spend his free time scouring local parks and play areas looking for rubbish.
Armed with a litter picker and a high-vis vest, Daniel has raised nearly £3,000 for Farleigh Hospice in Essex after his granny, Catherine Groombridge, died last year aged 69.
Catherine spent the last three months of her life there after being diagnosed with breast cancer.
Daniel’s mum, Natalie Walker, 39, said his granny inspired his love of nature by spending time with him in her garden planting flowers.
She said: “Daniel used to spend a lot of time with his granny in her garden. I think the litter picking came from when he used to spend time with her outdoors, gardening and planting flowers.
“He and his granny spent everyday together. The day after he started school, my mum died. Daniel adored her.
“She would have been ecstatic to see what he’s doing now. He wanted to do something in return for the hospice.
“We’re all just so proud of Daniel.”
Daniel litter picks every weekend and most afternoons after school and has since become a local celebrity in his neighbourhood in Great Notley, Essex.
His mum, Natalie Walker, 39, said: “Everyone knows Daniel! The feedback we’ve had is amazing.
“We joke that he’s a bit of a celeb and he thought it was a bit embarrassing at first but now he loves it!
“It all started a year ago when we were out walking one day and there was a lot of rubbish and a Tesco bag on the floor.
“Daniel decided he would get the bag and throw all the rubbish into it. He said he would do it every time he saw rubbish.”
Daniel said: “When I go around litter picking, I try to save the animals and the world.
“Squirrels run around when there’s metal cans so I try to get them to go away and pick up the litter so they don’t get hurt.”
Daniel is even teaching his mum and older sister Eloise, 11, how to live green and enforces strict rules on recycling.
Natalie added: “He gives you the ‘look’ if he sees something in the wrong place but it’s a good thing for all of us really.”
Daniel’s passion for litter picking has even bagged him an award for Young Inspirational Role Model of the Year at Braintree District Council’s Volunteer Awards.
As well as raising £2,800 for Farleigh Hospice, Daniel has also presented facts about litter to 300 parents and students at his school.
Councillor Wendy Schmitt, Cabinet Member for Environment and Place, said: “Daniel is a true litter hero and hearing his story and the pride he has for what he does is hugely inspiring, so we were delighted to award him as our Young Inspirational Volunteer of the Year and share his story further by featuring him in our magazine.
“There is so much passion for the fight against litter in our district and we see every day the selflessness of our Green Heart Champions who give up their time to clear rubbish from our streets.
“Daniel’s dedication for looking after the environment is a reminder to us all that what we do now will impact on future generations.
“More people need to take responsibility for their own waste and understand that dropping litter is a criminal offence.
“We should do all we can to pass on a cleaner, greener town to our young people.”