A WAR memorial has been given a spring clean courtesy of a new group aimed at keeping the area tidy.
Caring volunteer Martin Sharp spent the morning cleaning away discarded cigarette butts, rubbish, twigs and branches from the area surrounding the memorial in Victory Square, in the centre of Hartlepool.
The 52-year-old helped set up the Friends of Victory Square group, which has also joined forces with Middleton Grange Shopping Centre, in a bid to raise awareness about the significance of the memorial.
The memorial is a permanent reminder of the town’s men and women who died in wartime.
The litter pick was carried out in conjunction with the daily clean ups carried out by Hartlepool Borough Council staff.
Mr Sharp launched the group after he raised concerns about people dropping litter, drinking, playing football and skateboarding on the memorial, off Victoria Road.
He said: “I am passionate about the war memorial and passionate about the area surrounding it.
“I want to make this as nice a place as possible for people and visitors to the town to come and reflect.
“The Friends of Victory Square group is committed to go down the educational route. But this litter pick is an important part of keeping the area clean and tidy.
“If people see that others are helping to keep it tidy then they may be more inclined to volunteer their time in the future.
“It will also help raise the profile of the memorial so that everybody shows it the respect it deserves.”
Group members agreed to team up with the shopping complex after centre manager Mark Rycraft offered them an area to promote their message at a recent meeting.
An information stall is expected to be in the shopping centre at some point this summer, but a firm date is yet to be confirmed.
The Friends of Victory Square group is also planning to target schools and colleges in the town in a bid to educate youngsters.
The plinths that surround the memorial have the names of the 1,800 men and women from Hartlepool who died in the Second World War, subsequent conflicts and some from the First World War that were not originally listed.
It is against the law to skateboard in Victory Square, to play ball games or to drink alcohol.
The maximum penalty for breaking the by-law is a £500 fine.
For more information call Hartlepool Voluntary Development Agency (HVDA), which is supporting the group, on (01429) 262641.