This month we spoke to Peak Mountaineering’s Paul Lewis, a blogger, mountain training provider and long-time friend of Spring PR, about his Peak District Pick & Play event hosted back in May. Pick & Play sees families, friends and outdoor enthusiasts come together for a day of outdoor activities and litter picking. This year was his biggest event yet.
Your Pick & Play has been running for six years now. What spurred you on in the first instance to start?
“Litter has always really bothered me. My parents taught me, from a very early age, to always dispose of litter properly and this is something I have instilled in my own children. I find it hard to understand why other people don’t do the same and have seen a rapidly increasing amount being left around.
“This is particularly noticeable in the Peak District National Park where I live; and I wanted to do something to help – both by helping to keep the national park clean and also by educating people about the problem.
“But I knew that just asking people to come and collect litter probably wasn’t enough and so that’s how the idea of offering them some outdoor activities as a reward came along. We have the skills to do this and so it works a treat.”
This year was your biggest year yet – why do you think it is proving so popular and continuing to grow year on year?
“There seems to be a growing awareness of litter as a big issue….and a national disgrace. We’ve seen lots of publicity about it and lots of great initiatives being set up. This all feeds into the popularity of our event.
“Having said that, our event is also rather unique as the combination of litter collection and free outdoor activities is really different. We have also become very well established and we get lots of repeat participants.
“Finally, we push the event as much as we can – through social media, through the amazing brands we work with and through the media outlets that help spread the word. It is very much a team effort.”
What’s the most challenging aspect of the event for you as an organiser?
“We rely completely on instructors and volunteers who are happy to give up their time for free. This is a very big ask for professionals who are giving up a weekend day at one of their busiest times of year. But they do! We have several who have helped us for several years and we also find other new ones who come forward each year. It is humbling!
“We also work very closely with the Peak Park Conservation Volunteers and without them the event really wouldn’t be possible. They organise rangers to help, they provide litter collecting equipment and they clear the rubbish. The event is challenging to organise but without them it really would be impossible.”
How proud were you of this year’s event?
“I was absolutely blown away by everything about it. The weather was great, the participants were really enthusiastic, the instructors were legendary, the activities ran really well, the goody bags (thanks to the generosity of the sponsors) were the best yet and we collected a massive amount of litter. It was a truly fantastic day.”
What involvement did Spring clients, Hydro Flask, Reima and Nikwax have in the event?
“The Spring PR sponsors are amazing. I am so grateful for their involvement. We always try to work with brands that have an ethos matching our own and these certainly do – environmentally responsible brands that seek to protect the natural environment.
“Nikwax have been a great fit for the event for years and we really love having them on board. They provide a stack of products for our goody bags and even provide the goody bags themselves.
“Hydro Flask have also been providing products for years, but we were so grateful that they provided True Pint mugs for all the adult participants. We collect so many disposable cups during the litter pick and getting across the message about reusables is key.
“Lastly, Reima are a new brand to the event for this year but again they were a natural fit for the Pick & Play. They produce top quality, long-lasting clothes for active children and we hope our event inspires children to be active. Reima provided some great reusable drink bottles and other children’s goodies. Thanks to all the Spring PR brands and thanks also to Spring PR – a responsible company that we have loved working with for many years.”
How did this help? What difference does it make to have event sponsors like this?
“The sponsors make a huge difference. At a simple level, the participants love to receive a goody bag as a thank you for attending. However, the message behind the goody bag is really about encouraging the participants to make responsible choices and to choose brands that are focussed on protecting the natural environment. We are very selective about the brands we work with and have turned down far more than we have accepted.
“Brands also help us to spread awareness about the litter problem and help us have a louder voice to share the educational aspects of the events. The event sponsors are key.”
Can you reveal anything about next year’s event?
“Well, there is lots that will be similar and lots that will be very different. We are moving to a new venue, have some new activities to offer and also hope to expand the day to include an evening talk or some form of entertainment. Pick & Play 2020 is going to be A-MAZ-ING and we already have people booking their places. BTW….the date will be May 10th.
“The litter that I see dropped everywhere, but especially in our beautiful wilderness areas, breaks my heart. So many people try really hard to look after these special places and yet a few really don’t seem to care. I hope that, by connecting people with the natural environment and highlighting the issue, we can make a difference.”