A Hartlepool schoolgirl has been hailed as an inspiration after winning a national award for her efforts in the community.
Jessica Stones, 10, won a prestigious Litter Hero award for her beach cleaning efforts.
The St Cuthbert’s Primary School pupil was recognised for her work in establishing the ‘Seaton Beach Squad’, which meets regularly to clean the beach at Seaton Carew.
Jessica, from Seaton Carew, was invited to Brighton for the awards ceremony, and was left overwhelmed after winning the Keep Britain Tidy Litter Hero Award for 2018.
Her achievement has left parents Caroline and Kevin, and brother Nathan, 17, immensely proud.
Kevin said: “It’s unbelievable that she has won such a big award.
She’s a little girl that just wants to change the world one step at a timeKevin Stones
“There were quite a few people up for it from across the country, and just to go down there was a great experience for us.
“When they announced that she had won, it was an amazing moment.
“Jess was overcome with emotion and received a standing ovation.
“She’s a little girl that just wants to change the world one step at a time.
“Even to get shortlisted for something like that was a fantastic achievement.”
Jessica set up the Seaton Beach Squad nine months ago, and it now has over 240 members.
She became passionate about the project after learning about the harmful impact of waste on beaches and sea life.
Kevin added: “She read a report about a whale which had been washed up on the beach, and they found that it was full of plastic.
“She wanted to see what she could do about it.
“She formed a group to clean up the beach at Seaton.
“It was her idea, and her passion has made it grow and grow.”
Hartlepool Borough Council nominated Jessica for the award.
Coun Dave Hunter, chair of the council’s neighbourhood services committee, said: “Many congratulations to Jessica on this well-deserved award.
“We all have a role to play in helping to keep our fine town clean and tidy, and Jessica is a great example to us all and a credit to Hartlepool.”