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BAE Systems apprentices make a clean sweep on Walney

Tents, camping chairs and wellington boots were among items collected by BAE Systems apprentices who swapped the Barrow shipyard for beachcombing on Walney as part of their training programme.

Working with Cumbria Wildlife Trust, at South Walney Nature Reserve, well over a hundred apprentices have already taken part in three litter picks this year, which have helped recover dozens of bags of rubbish from the beaches for safe disposal.

Lorna Rigg, Apprentice Skills and Development Coach at BAE Systems, said: "The beach clean itself is a real eye opener; you always hear about waste washing up and the effect it has on the environment but when you actually get to a beach clean you realise how much of a real issue it is."

Apprentices are equipped with safety equipment before embarking on the clean-up and a hazard assessment of the beach is carried out.

Sarah Dalrymple, Cumbria Wildlife Trust’s South Walney Warden, said: “South Walney Nature Reserve is a very special place for wildlife, especially birds and grey seals, which use the nature reserve to breed and to rest and feed on migration. There’s usually no access allowed to the beaches as they are protected as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, but we welcome groups to help clean the beaches once the breeding bird season is over. The BAE Systems apprentices got stuck in and did a brilliant job of removing the litter that is constantly washing up on to the beaches.”

The most recent event saw a group of 30 BAE Systems apprentices including fitters, fabricators, steelworkers and electricians take part in the clean. Earlier in the summer, 67 took part in a clean-up on July 1 with another 44 also working to clean the beaches in May.

The clean-up initiative is part of the apprentice training programme at BAE Systems.

Lorna Rigg said: "We take the opportunity within early careers to carry out beach cleans every transition or induction period. We are due to carry out two more beach cleans in the coming weeks as part of our apprentice induction which helps show apprentices that BAE Systems is not just an engineering company, but we are so much more. We are one large team who support local communities."

South Walney Nature Reserve is open to visitors all year around, where you can follow the way-marked trails and visit the artist-designed bird hides. For more information visit https://www.cumbriawildlifetrust.org.uk/nature-reserves/south-walney

Nathan Watters and Sarah Dalrymple

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