Our Stories

Eco Rangers NI is a community of passionate volunteers, each with their own reasons for volunteering and their own story to tell of what being an Eco Ranger means to them. Here are just a few of our stories...

Hello! My name is Alyson and I am a proud member of Eco Rangers NI. I joined in March 2021.

I was shielding during lockdown; it was a very lonely and boring time, sitting doing nothing when I had been such an active outdoors type of person. When I was able to get out again I would see Abe Agnew and his dog Bobbi out walking and clearing the roads and streets. I approached him and asked why he was always lifting other people's rubbish. To cut a long story short, I joined him!

I would spend hours and walk miles, just thankful that I could get out of the house and enjoy our beautiful town and countryside. I have been an active member ever since, and became Deputy Chairperson in August 2023. I can definitely see that what we are doing is making a difference in our towns and villages throughout County Antrim.

We have become a big, friendly group bringing people from all walks of life together doing what we love.

Hi, my name is Avril and I love my volunteer job. I started during Covid as I was horrified at the amount of litter on the New Line, Carrickfergus. Rather than wait for someone else to clean it up, I decided to do something about it myself and found out about the Eco Rangers.

At that time we were "allowed outside for exercise, had to keep within a 2 mile radius of home and stay 2m apart". Litter picking fitted the bill perfectly. Once I started the New Line, other volunteers joined me and we filled 100 bags of rubbish on that 3 mile stretch. We now had a team and started to tackle problem areas in the town.

It was great to see our town become a lovely place to visit and we strive to keep it that way. We have fun as a team and recently my husband Clive has joined us; a matter of "if you can't beat them, join them!" We love being out in the fresh air, getting some exercise and meeting up with like minded friends. Come and join in the fun and take pride in what you do.

My name is Stephen and it is my privilege to be the Chairperson of the Eco Rangers NI. But how did that happen? It probably started years ago when I read a very funny book by Danny Wallace apparently based on a true story. For one year instead of saying no to everything, you commit to saying yes. The book is called,”The Yes Man.” It is a self-help way of getting out of whatever doldrums your life is in. A way of opening up to new opportunities and adventures.

It came to mind whenever the world changed because of Covid-19. My son came home from Dubai where he had been working for an airline. He brought with him a lovely natured Labrador dog called, “Rory”. Even though he was from a hot climate Rory loved our cold weather and during Lockdown I found myself enjoying walks in the forests at Woodburn. We were not the only ones to discover the hidden gems of a pristine forest. It was so sad to see where thoughtless and careless people had littered the forest and nearby Reservoirs. When I went home I mentioned it and then I heard of a gentleman in England who was also concerned about the littering and fly tipping that was on the increase. He suggested that all dog walkers, who are clearing up after their dogs anyway, could spend ten minutes lifting litter too. It would mean that literally millions of pieces of litter would be removed. I told this story and a member of my family said, “What about this new litter picking group the Eco Rangers? I have seen them on Facebook. I think you would enjoy it.” Remember the “Yes Man” approach? I soon met and joined the Carrick crew of the Eco Rangers.

My claim to fame was the fact that from the start I used my car as the “Chuck Wagon” and brought coffee and goodies for everyone for when we finished our group litter pick.

Joining the Eco Rangers is like learning to swim. It is not enough to stand at the side of the pool. You have to take the plunge. As Chairperson, it saddens me when people stand at the side of the swimming pool with their water wings, afraid to jump in. I guess if it was swimming lessons we were offering, I would be the annoying guy pushing everyone in!

You see I am totally committed to the work that we do and totally committed to our volunteers. They are the best. It is like the old adage says, if you want to help yourself, help others. If you want to improve things for yourself, improve things for others. That is the magic formula and the more you put in the more you will get out.

The Eco Rangers have given me my confidence back. I have gone from the quiet man who never spoke to Mr chatty. I now talk to everyone and anyone and that has made such a difference to my life. It has given me an outlet for my few talents. I know how to organise but more importantly I am able to delegate to some very talented people. We are determined to provide a structure for the Eco Rangers so we can continue to grow and continue to fight the scourge of littering.

Do I get it right all the time? No of course not. I make mistakes. I have had to learn that no matter how hard I try to convince them I will not win everyone over. I can be a right smart alec but at least I know I am and it is much better to try and do something rather than sit in the house and play it safe.

Learn to say, “yes” more.

Come on in. The water’s lovely

My name is Christine and I've been litter picking for a while now, having started in 2018. I joined Eco Rangers in early 2021 after stumbling across the Facebook page and quickly became involved in supporting the group with admin. There's always something needing done with such a big, active group so it really keeps me busy.

Litter picking is very much a family activity in our house; my husband and children are Eco Rangers too and my eldest rarely misses a group event! It's a great way to spend time together doing something meaningful and I believe it will make a positive impact on how the kids view the world as they grow up.

I first started litter picking because I wanted to show my children that we could make a positive difference in the world. That's still a big motivator for me, but what gives Eco Rangers special place in my heart are the people. I don't think I've ever attended a litter pick where I've not had a laugh and went home happier than I arrived. I've filled hundreds of bags of litter with these people and in return, they've filled my heart time and again. You honestly couldn't hope to meet a more friendly, supportive (and frankly, sometimes downright crazy) group of people.

If you are interested in litter picking, or even if you're not sure but need a change - try volunteering with Eco Rangers NI - you won't regret it!

Hello, I'm Maeve. I never saw my mum get mad or cross except when she saw someone litter or cut down trees/ hedges.

We were taught from an early age - "you just don’t do that" - respect for nature was paramount , the environment needed protecting and ‘always do the right thing’. When we would have ‘done the round’ growing up (out in the country, down in the Mournes), we would have always taken a plastic bag with us and picked up the rubbish as we went. It’s just the thing you do. You don’t walk by it. My mum still does ‘the round’ now - she’s 83.

It’s a way of life! You either get it or you don’t but I think the Eco Rangers are a powerful symbol for good. I’m very proud to be a member 😊

My name is Margaret. Born into country life, a farmer's daughter, I've always been involved with the welfare of animals.

It has been a great concern to me the amount of litter that makes its way into hedges around farmland. Plastic bags and bottles can be a real choking hazard and a broken bottle can cause a cut and could end up being a life threatening injury. It's not only large animals that are affected from this litter but field mice, birds and bees just to mention a few are all at risk of drowning in an empty crisp bag filled with rain water.

I got involved with The Eco Rangers after noticing Abe and Bobbie out picking litter so when a post popped up on Facebook about a group pick in Glenarm, my husband Gary and I went along to see if we could help. We took our Land Rover and trailer and collected the blue bags into an area for collection. It felt good doing our bit for our wee country no matter how small.

Being an Eco Ranger is a privilege

Hi my name's Lesley-Anne. After being very fit running 5km twice a week, my world got turned upside down with being diagnosed with MS. I just couldn't get back out running as my right side had been affected. So I joined the Eco Rangers end of June 2021.

Abe kindly gave me a trolley as I couldn't carry the blue bags for long as thy were too heavy for me. It has been a godsend as I'm able to get out litter picking and not worrying about the bags. Just being out in the fresh air and no-one bothering you and lifting the litter has helped me greatly coming to terms with my diagnosis. My motto is 'it's happened and there nothing I can do about it '.

So now I take each day at a time. I work every morning from home as a civil servant and if I have energy in the afternoon, I do my bit for our group. I'm happy to be a part of the Eco Rangers group and now on the Committee too. I feel like I'm helping as much as I physically and possibly can at this time and really enjoy it.

Everyone can help, no matter how little.

Hello, I'm Helen. I joined the Eco Rangers during the Covid 19 lockdown as I had been furloughed from my job. Seeing Abe and Bobbie out collecting rubbish along our local roads was a great inspiration. I, like most of the members in our group, was sick looking at the litter that was just gathering everyday. Once I joined up, I felt a massive amount of pride about doing something to help improve our hometown.

Being outdoors is massively beneficial for both physical and mental health. I am a birder and wildlife enthusiast, so to know that I am helping our local wildlife, one plastic bottle at a time helps me to feel like I am doing my part to help tackle the global environmental issues we are all facing!

My son is now a junior Eco Ranger and loves to be outside helping. He has a massive amount of pride when out wearing his Eco Ranger vest and loves to teach his school friends and fellow scouts all about the issues cause by littering. He can usually spot pieces of litter before me! 😁

Reduce, Reuse & Recycle ♻️

Hi all, I am Richard. I had been a concerned member of the public for many years, bemoaning the amount of rubbish discarded around our wee country, caused by a few tossers (people who dispose of their litter by tossing it on the ground). Whilst out walking our family dog, I would have collected and disposed of rubbish along my routes. One such night out walking the dog, I came across another like-minded individual on the Carrickfergus top road.

I approached him and asked why he was collecting litter, ‘I’m an Eco Ranger’ he declared, and as they say, the rest is history. I’ve been a proactive volunteer for 6 months now. I especially enjoy ‘group picks’ as this gives you the opportunity to spend time with like-minded people from the local area. In the short time that I have been a volunteer we have collected over 6 tons of discarded rubbish; a shocking statistic is such a short time.

So far, I have volunteered for larger events, such as this years’ Glenarm Dalfest Music festival, a great weekend with some ‘craic’ with all the visitors. A couple of local beach cleans; these are always rewarding and of course the groundhog location; the new bypass out of Carrickfergus. A favourite spot for motorized ‘tossers’ to discard all manner of rubbish they don’t want to take home.

To date I’m really enjoying this volunteering opportunity and it would always benefit from more like-minded persons. So, if you’re reading this, maybe this will inspire you to get involved; contact us and we’ll have you kitted out before you can say Christmas

Hi I'm Jennie and I'm a PROUD Eco Ranger!!

I joined up in June 2023 after feeling disgusted at the amount of litter the country roads close to my house. Some of my neighbours have been Eco Rangers for a while and I had seen them in their Hi viz vests, wielding their litter pickers and clearing litter from the area.

I enquired about how I could help. Once I received my kit, I began collecting litter near my home. I enjoyed the quiet time as I am a busy, working mum of 2 and help to care for my mother who has Alzheimer's. Since joining I have met such warm, friendly, kind people with a shared view on keeping where we live litter free!

It does my heart good to feel I am doing my bit and I love it when I meet locals when out litter picking, I get so many thanks and good wishes. Doing the group events are great craic, catching up with everyone and having a laugh too!