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'Garbage Girl' leads river clean-up team to give back to UK

Heaps of rubbish have been pulled from the Thames as volunteers patrol the river in kayaks and paddleboards to keep it tidy.

It is part of Project GB – Give Back – which invites anyone interested to get into the river and collect waste, and was set up by 31-year-old Alicja Chaba, who lives in Maidenhead.

The contract catering company general manager is set to return to her home town Gliwice in southern Poland, in November before heading to Sri Lanka in December to go travelling.

Alicja, whose nickname is now ‘Garbage Girl’, wanted a way to give back to the UK before she left, and settled on cleaning up the river.

“We’ve collected so much rubbish,” she said. “We have met so many people saying ‘good for us’. It has been so rewarding. England has given me a lot, a lot in terms of career progression, friends, opportunities, you name it. I’m only leaving because I want to see the world.”

The project started in July after Alicja asked friends if they wanted to help out. They travel in their own watercraft and patrol the Thames near Maidenhead, equipped with waste bags, collecting stacks of rubbish from the water.

Eight Project GB volunteers – including Alicja – went out on Tuesday, setting off from Boulters Lock.

Volunteers are welcome to join by signing up online.

Alicja said: “I’m not really waiting for people to start coming and joining us, but it’s just a message to people to stop throwing the things in.

“I just want people to realise that, maybe not now, but in the future, it is going to kill our environment. Stop and think.”

She would like to take the project to Sri Lanka to help keep beaches there clean.

Visit www.facebook.com/ACProjectGB/ to register interest in taking part in Project GB.

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