Aberystwyth is a town of co-operation, people are proud of this town and nowhere is that more evident in the tireless work of the Aberystwyth Beach Buddies.
Of all the things that make Aber beautiful to look at it is surely the beach which takes pride of place. Every postcard and the photos on the pages of everything from Aberystwyth Voice through to “You know you’re from Aber when…” proudly display our beautiful coastline. When the storms battered the prom (yes I had to mention it) it was incredible to see the amount of people who turned up with brushes and spades to clear the debris. This pride and a more general desire to ensure the positive treatment of our environment has led to the establishment of one of Aber’s greatest organisations, the Aberystwyth Beach Buddies.
When you walk down the prom you might notice a polite message written on a rock or railing asking you to take your litter with you when you go. The beach is never nicer than on a Summer’s eve when countless groups are there enjoying a barbecue and beer with the occasional sing along. The problem with this of course is that people just don’t respect our lovely beaches enough.
One of the leaders of the Aberystwyth Beach Buddies told me that “Beach Buddies were set up to tackle the issue of marine pollution in and near Aberystwyth (as part of a global problem), to raise awareness of the various problems that contribute to it locally, nationally and globally, and to educate and inspire the community both permanent and temporary. We organise regular beach cleans for people to take part in, not only to clean beaches but so that the community can see for themselves just how much and how often our beaches are strewn with rubbish, the most problematic of which are plastics, of all sizes and shapes and therefore how much is now in the planets oceans. We also raise awareness about other marine issues, ‘bycatch’ and sustainable fish for example, as well as celebrating the beauty of our special location, and it’s wildlife, through the work of artists and photographers both professional and amateur. We hope encourage folk to appreciate what we have, to encourage pride in our landscape and it’s natural assets, to raise awareness about what is threatening the seas and the life they support, which includes humans, and find alternatives which still enable beach visitors to have fun and enjoy a great time in natural settings that do not have a negative impact on the environment.”
The Aberystwyth Beach Buddies don’t just write messages, they actually give their own time to walk along the beach and gather the rubbish left behind by tourists and locals. I’m sure we can all agree that their work is essential and incredible. Our beaches need them, but they don’t need the hassle. They are giving their own time and effort to clean other people’s mess without a word of thanks coming their way so I really want to take this opportunity to thank them.
The Aberystwyth Beach Buddies are an institution which I’m sure we are all incredibly proud of. However they shouldn’t have to undertake the work that they do. The fact that we have Aberystwyth Beach Buddies is wonderful but the fact the we need them is really quite depressing. I opened this article by writing about how proud we all are of this town and its seafront. But how true is that in reality? If we need messages warning us about litter and we need people to come and tidy up after us then maybe we actually aren’t the proud community that we think we are. Don’t get me wrong, I know that the vast majority of us are extremely conscientious and do our utmost to ensure that we leave the beach as we found it. But I do feel that as a community we need to do more to support the work of people like Aberystwyth Beach Buddies, not only by taking our own rubbish with us but by creating a real culture of pride and respect for our beaches and general environment. That is the achievement that Aberystwyth Beach Buddies are striving for and I think we should all be extremely grateful for their work and help them in their quest for a well respected and clean beach.