THE need for groups of volunteers to keep the beaches of Furness clear of washed-up rubbish is not a new one.

Today’s biggest problem is plastic but in the past beach cleaners have had to cope with everything from glass bottles and fishing nets to oil slicks and blocks of sticky fat dumped by ships at sea.

Fifty years ago an oil slick killed many hundreds of birds along the Cumbria coast – first in beaches at Seascale and Ravenglass and then at Walney

Back in September 2002 volunteers took part in a beach-clean at South Walney nature reserve.

The group of keen workers was led by nature reserve warden Mick Venters.

Burlington Resources took part in a Walney beach litter pick the following month as part of its involvement within the Barrow community.

The Burlington team - both from Barrow and London - joined forces with the Cumbria Marine Litter Project to clean and survey a stretch of beach at Bigger Bank, Walney.

The Mail, on May 11 in 1994, noted: “Operation Clean Beach has been launched by Furness and Cartmel Tourism in a bid to tidy up the area’s rubbish-strewn shores.

“As part of British Telecom environment week, the tourism action group is joining forces with the British Trust for Nature Conservation volunteers and Barrow Sixth Form College for a major litter-pick at Earnse Bay, Walney, on May 20.

“It will be the first of a number of clean-ups planned for the sea during the summer.

“All the litter collected will be sorted and recycled where possible.”

The litter session was from 10am to 5pm and there was a free barbecue at the end.

Tim Rogers, Furness and Cartmel Tourism boss, said: “We are delighted to play our part in enhancing the environment for both local people and visitors alike.”

British Trust for Conservation Volunteers spokesman, Jeremy Gavring said: “By joining forces with Furness and Cartmel Tourism and Barrow Sixth Form College we are hoping the day will be a successful and enjoyable event.”