Pick & Play 2019 Review
In the six years we have been running our Peak District Pick & Play litter collection and outdoor activity event we always, no matter how organised we are, seem to have a lot to do in the days leading up to the big day. This year was no exception - there are staff to organise, sponsors to talk to, goody bags to pack, activity groups to plan and a host of other jobs. We have got pretty slick over the years, but still.
Infact, I say that this year was similar and yet it was also different. We always have a maximum capacity due to instructor ratios and the limitations of the venue, and by about a fortnight before, we’d already reached our maximum number of 170. This made 2019 our biggest event yet and, while that was amazing news, it was also sad that we had to start turning people away. How brilliant it is that so many people are willing to give up their day to help clean up our special park.
Another big consideration for us, as we approach the day, is to keep checking the weather forecast. A lot! In the years the event has been running we have never had more than a small rain shower and the sun has always reliably supported the event. On Friday and early Saturday the rain fell in the Peak District National Park and yet, by Saturday afternoon, the clouds disappeared and the sun was scheduled to shine all day on Sunday. Phew!
And so, after a very early start to prepare the venue on Sunday, Pick and Players started arriving. Firstly in ones and twos, and soon in abundance. Cal, Vicky and Teresa got everyone organised in the registration tent and free goody bags were handed out as people arrived. The Pick and Play is very much a collaborative partnership with the Peak Park Conservation Volunteers and it really wouldn’t be possible (or half as much fun) without them on board. Besides this event they organise a wide range of conservation activities and you can find out more about their important work here.
The goody bags have become a nice bonus for everyone attending and they are only possible due to the generosity of our amazing sponsors. Long established local manufacturer Rab needs little introduction as the UK’s premier outdoor clothing brand and they are our main sponsor. Rab have supported the event since our second year and we love having them on board. They generously supply various products for everyone’s goody bag and additional items for our lunchtime raffle. It was also great to welcome some Rab staff who helped on the day and got busy collecting rubbish.
Nikwax are another long established British company who have supported us since our second year. Nikwax make a broad range of proofing and cleaning products tailored to the outdoor market and we really value their commitment to environmentally responsible manufacturing. Again, Nikwax always supply a range of products for everyone’s goody bags.
American company Hydro Flask manufacture stylish reusable drink bottles and support several environmental initiatives - we are proud to be one. In previous year’s Hydro Flask have provided some of their flasks for our raffle, but this year they went a massive step further and supplied enough of their insulated mugs for us to put one in every adult goody bag. Similarly prestigious children’s clothing brand Reima jumped on board this year with enough goodies for every child and well known rucksack manufacturer Osprey provided some great packs for us to give away as prizes. We are always humbled by the amazing generosity of all these brands and the importance they all place on protecting the environment.
The activities soon got underway after a quick introductory chat and safety brief. We sent some groups off to climb, abseil, learn some navigation skills, try their hand at bushcraft, experience the unique thrills of weaselling (a sort of above ground child friendly caving activity amongst the gritstone boulder fields of Higgar Tor) and have a nature walk with ranger Teresa. Alongside this, our morning litter pickers met up with a ranger and head off with rubbish bags, litter grabbers and protective gloves. The ranger staff are truly invaluable at helping us identify the litter hot spots to tackle.
Our vision for the Pick & Play is that it will always be a completely free event. To do this we rely heavily on the support of a team of professional instructors who give up a precious Sunday to help. For this year we were joined by 6 members of the Association of Mountaineering Instructors along with members of the Mountain Training Association. They ensure we can run some exciting activities and their support is greatly appreciated. If no instructors came forward there would be no Pick and Play.
After a busy morning we met up back at the venue for a well earned lunch, hot drinks provided by the conservation volunteers and snacks kindly supplied by Iconic Cycling Events. When everyone gets together after a morning sharing activities it is such a great atmosphere. Some people come in groups, as families or as individuals and we also get all ages attending (our youngest participant was 18 months old and the oldest was 84).
After lunch we always get everyone to join together for a group photo and that’s the one you can see at the top of this page. It is worth mentioning that we take the photo at lunchtime because sometimes people need to whizz off at the end and it would be hard to get the whole team together. This does mean, however, that we only ever get a photo with half the rubbish. We easily doubled this! We also use the lunch as a chance to give away some great prizes in our famous raffle. For this year that included some fantastic rucksacks from Osprey and Lowe Alpine along with a Rab Neutrino down sleeping bag.
Anyway, after lunch we headed out for the afternoon. The sun continued to shine and again we ran a stack of activities and new litter collection groups headed off. We tackled, amongst other areas, litter problems under Millstone Edge and into the Burbage Valley and Padley Gorge. Eventually, everyone congregated back at Surprise View and it was great to receive so many positive comments and see so many happy smiles. The litter mountain had grown considerably and, fortunately for us, the Peak Park Conversation Volunteers kindly arrange removal of all this and even help to recycle the rubbish that is suitable for reuse. A massive help.
After the site was cleared and everyone had head for home it was time to sit in the local pub and reflect on our 2019 event. We felt both humbled and proud - that so many people are willing to come along to clear up our special national park, that so many instructors are happy to give up their precious time to run such a great range of activities, that so many commercial organisations will support the event with products and logistical support and finally, that so many media outlets will publicise the event and help to educate people about our growing litter problem. From a simple idea all those years ago to where we are now. What an absolute privilege. The date for next year is already set as May 10th 2020. Do register your interest through our Contact Form here and, most importantly, please save the date for your diary.
Posted by Paul