Santa is on a mission to clear Hartlepool's streets of litter - and here he is in action!

No you are not seeing things. Santa really is cleaning the streets of Hartlepool of litter.

Thursday, 16th December 2021, 4:45 am

In fact, the man who is on a festive clean-up mission is grandfather-of-five Russ Carkner who wants to make sure the town is as spotless as possible.

Russ has spent three hours a day so far this week dressed as Father Christmas as he collects litter – and he won’t stop until the end of the week.

His seasonal appearance is going down an absolute treat with passers by.

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Russ Carkner who is on a Santa mission to clean the streets of Hartlepool.

"Little children in baby chairs scream ‘Santa!’ when they see me and the amount of cars that slow down in my neighbourhood is great,” said Russ, 62, who is a member of the Hartlepool Big Town Tidy Up group.

"If it stops someone from throwing litter, all the better.”

Russ collects rubbish in the Bishop Cuthbert and Hart Lane areas and will often do a three hour stint where he collects 8/9 bags.

But this week, he is out each day with his Santa suit and his faithful dog Barney for company.

Santa Claus is coming to town - to clean the streets.

It’s not the first time Russ has been out in his Santa outfit either.

He said: ‘I started this last year when I had seen other people out in things like Superman costumes and I thought ‘why not Father Christmas?’ The response was phenomenal.”

Russ may be retired now, but he used to work as a firefighter in his native Canada. He was born and raised in Ottawa before moving to Banff, in Alberta.

But he and his wife Gillian, who is from the Headland, decided on a life back in England to be nearer grandchildren.

Ready for action - Santa is a litter-picking hero in Hartlepool.

It was while Russ was on babysitting duties in Hartlepool – when he was out pushing his grandson’s push chair around six years ago – that he decided to begin litter picking after spotting needles and bottles.

Now he is a litter picking regular and often collects mainly cans.

The Hartlepool Big Town Tidy Up Facebook forum group was created in February 2019.

To find out more about the group and its superb work, including how to join, visit the Hartlepool Big Town Tidy Up Facebook page.

Russ Carkner.

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