A man who has been cleaning the green near his home alone for more than 50 years was delighted to be joined by over 30 keen litter cleaners earlier this month.

Andy Crossman has lived in Forest View Avenue, Leyton, for 51 years.

Every week, the 74-year-old grabs a refuse bag or three and heads out to litter pick on the Whipps Cross green.

On October, Sunday 6, for the first time in half a century of cleaning, Andy was joined by 30 other residents.

It was no coincidence, rather the result of two years of community building.

Andy has helped form a Forest View residents group covering Halford Road, Stacey Close, Fulready Road, Eatington Road and Forest View Avenue, although he is keen to stress there is no leader of the group and it is just a collective space for all residents.

In September 2018 the group held its first street party, now an annual event, and from there book clubs, wine clubs and various community groups have formed.

Andy said: “It’s not just a litter patrol group but a group of people who can come together and talk to each other but while we natter, we might as well have a litter picker in one hand and a bin bag in the other.”

At this year’s street party, residents resolved to join Andy on his litter picking missions.

Children as young as three joined the veteran litter picker on the green to scour it for rubbish.

“We only took the little ones on board because they can get under the bushes”, Andy quipped.

Andy was taken aback by the enthusiasm of the children.

“I think we are the people that our responsible for creating this litter problem but the kids today who are taught at school about the environment were incredibly enthusiastic about litter picking, they were buzzing around and having a great time”, he said.

Daniel Cockrill, 46, of Eatington Road, explained the community’s organisation was about more than litter picking.

“It’s a way of keeping a close eye on everyone in our community, particularly the most vulnerable residents.

“It came about because I saw Andy doing his thing every Sunday and I though wouldn’t it be better if we had 20 or 30 people helping put.”

Andy was keen to thank the City of London and Waltham Forest Council for the support he receives from litter picking equipment to waste collection.

Cllr Shabana Dhedhi, of Forest ward, said: “I really value and champion the work that residents like Andy Crossman do to keep the area tidy.

“Holding clean-up days and involving the local community and families is fantastic and by doing this creates opportunities for residents to look after each other and care for their neighbourhoods.”

The group clean will be a weekly event moving forward.