THIS is the man who spends his retirement clearing up 20 bags of litter a week from the roads of Basingstoke.

John Readman has been pick litter from the streets of Sherfield Park, Popley and Cufaude Lane since he moved to the area in June 2018 to be closer to his son, who lives in Bramley.

He got into what he described as his favourite hobby whilst living in South Leeds, starting by clearing a footpath near to a local school before moving on to the nearby woodlands and local paths.

He’s now been volunteering his time to clean up the paths of Basingstoke, receiving support from the borough and parish councils in his quest to do so.

John says he does it to “make a difference”.

“I really do find it so much better if you’ve not got cans all over the place,” he told the Gazette.

“It looks so much better and I’m sure it must improve the place.”

He says that he was inspired to act after seeing rubbish all over his streets, saying he felt an urge to just pick it all up. John was spurred on to continue after David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II highlighted the plastic pollution issue back in 2018.

“In this country, we don’t have a system to get people to actually [pick up litter] and get money to do this,” he continued.

“For example, my wife and I went to New York one day and we got on the subway and there was a chap sitting on the train. Beside him there was a massive pile of cans and bottles in a bag.

“I asked my son about it and he said that you can get money for that. It encourages people to earn a bit of cash from rubbish, whereas in this country, we don’t do that.

“I wish we could [introduce it], it would make such a difference.”

John says he cleans Cufaude Lane once a week, whilst he also walks down to Gastons Wood Industrial Estate and around Sherfield Park.

Coca-cola cans, fast food boxes and tissues are the most common items that the volunteer finds, whilst he also often comes across beer bottles and part-drunken vodka bottles.

John said that the support he’s received from the councils has been “tremendous”. Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council have provided him with free bags, plus they pick up his full bags from a number of locations. In addition, one local parish councillor has allowed him to leave his bags outside his house.

“It is marvellous, this is what I like about it,” John continued. “They do so much for it, okay, maybe I do a lot for them too, but that’s what I enjoy doing, it’s community work.”

He says that he’s now keeping a record of what he picks up, as it has become part of his exercise routine.

He also pleas to the public to take their rubbish home, rather than dumping it: “When I was a kid, my mum and dad always told us to take everything home with us. That’s the best place to put it and that’s the place it should go. Or if there is a bin, stick it in there, but don’t just dump it on the ground or through it out of the window.”