Danny Eisawy, 10, and eight-year-old JoJo, aka the ‘Litter Kickers’, have been spending several hours a week collecting rubbish strewn around town.
They have decided to match the amount of time they spend playing football with carrying out their environmental duties – they call it the ‘litter-picking law’.
The brothers attend Sussex Road Primary School and last Friday they staged a ‘climate change strike’ outside the gates before lessons began, in solidarity with fellow students and pupils all over Europe.
The litter-picking exploits began after they supported the week-long vigil on River Lawn to save a mature horse chestnut tree from being felled by developers.
The tree, which suffers from bleeding canker, was on the boundary of the land where the new Tonbridge Medical Centre is being built.
Before Christmas protesters gathered at the tree – and in its branches – 24 hours a day to stop Assura from taking the tree down, and they succeeded in saving it.
The siblings’ mother, Charlotte Raveney, says: “They have been with the River Lawn campaign from the start but it all really began with the tree.
“They had two inset days which coincided with the start of the vigil so they spent both days there, then came back over the weekend and after school the following week.
“They are inspired by the idea they can change things by taking action, and there are a lot of things around the world they want to change.”
Their ‘law’ came into force after JoJo asked for a litter-picker for his birthday and then began picking up rubbish on his way to school.
“He loves his football, he plays for Tonbridge Juniors, and that’s how it got started. They decided to do the same amount of litter picking as playing,” says Ms Raveney.
“They spend a lot of time outside, they’ve got a lake behind the house and they love going to Forest School. And Danny got upset about the polar bears and the ice caps.”
“Their cousins came over from Japan, where of course there’s no litter at all, and they were talking around the town and pointing at bits of rubbish and saying ‘dirty, dirty!’
‘It’s the law. If you play four hours of football, you have to do four hours of litter-picking. And we do it daily, or maybe three times a week’
“The boys got quite embarrassed about that and decided to do something about it.”
Danny told the Times: “It’s the law. If you play four hours of football, you have to do four hours of litter-picking. And we do it daily, or maybe three times a week.”
He initiated the demonstration about global warming outside Sussex Road, which started at 8.40am when the school gates usually open.
Danny said: “We heard that all of Europe was doing school strikes, but we didn’t want to miss school so we did our campaign beforehand. But we were allowed to miss 20 minutes of school.
“There were only three of us at the start, we were standing outside the school gates, but by the end there were about 15 or 20 of us.”
He added: “It got very loud. There are 400 students in the school and the parents as well, so I had to shout very loud. I was singing ‘save our world’ and ‘stop climate change’.
“My friend kept whispering in my ear, telling me what to say. I didn’t always say what he told me to, though – I was filtering it.”
They were nominated by Police Community Support Officer Jack Bridger and Tamsin Ritchie, TMBC’s Environmental Projects Coordinator.
In their citation for the ‘fantastic boys’ they said: “Wow, if everyone could be a bit more environmentally minded as these two demonstrate, our borough really would be cleaner, safer and greener.”
Litter has little to do with puppies for Lulu
AMONG the recipients of the Environmental Champions award was Lulu the spaniel, who collects litter as part of her daily walks around Tonbridge Racecourse with owner Gary Longley.
A volunteer at Haysden Country Park, Mr Longley is a previous recipient of the Environmental Champion award.
His springer-cocker cross was nominated by Anthony Bales, who previously worked as a Ranger for TMBC at Haysden.
Mr Longley explained: “I’ve been doing litter picking voluntarily for quite a few years now and when we went around first of all, I had to have a bag with me. She’d walk 50 yards and I’d have to put her in the bag because she was a bit tired.
“Now we go for three hours around the park on Sunday, picking up litter and making sure everything’s OK. She thoroughly enjoys herself. I think she’d like to spend the whole day out.”
He added: “She’s a bit of a celebrity, everybody knows her and they think it’s amazing that a dog can do a job that humans should be doing.”
Fantastic with plastic
Other winners from the town were Raquel De Dicuru, who organises the Big Tonbridge Plastic Clean-up around Town Lock area; and Jonathan and Charlotte Fagg, a father and daughter who have gone out every weekend for several months to collect litter along routes from The Slade where they live towards Haysden Country Park.
They recently cleared out the pillbox by the River Medway near Lucifer Bridge, filling three black bags full of rubbish.