Lottery millionaire helps support big beach clean-up

Neil Smart from Seaton helps with a beach clean-up

Neil Smart from Seaton helps with a beach clean-up - Credit: Martin Bennett

A Seaton lottery winner has joined others from across the South West to help with the Cornish beach clear-up after a busy summer of visitors.  

Neil Smart from Seaton won £1 million with his wife Sue in 2021 and was among the first to sign up for the litter pick project in Bude, where the nine enthusiastic volunteers braved the stormy rain and threat of lightening to collect rubbish and learn more about the microplastics plaguing Britain’s coastline. 

The event, which was run by National Lottery-funded The 2 Minute Foundation, came after one of Cornwall’s busiest summers on record with an extra 30,000 visitors to the county compared to usual years.  

Cornwall Council has reported a significant increase of litter on beaches this summer, citing disposable barbeques and broken bottles as being particularly prevalent and dangerous. And while the National Lottery winners didn’t find any of those, they did collect micro plastics, rope, barbed wire and hundreds of small plastic nurdles from the world renowned Bude beach.  

Neil said: “I’m passionate about keeping the coast and the seas clean, having been in the Navy for 22 years and retiring eight years ago. It was 30 years ago on September 9 when I joined. 

“Learning about how dangerous nurdles are and how to spot them has been a real eye opener and I’ll be constantly keeping an eye out for them from now on at my local beach in Seaton.” 

The 2 Minute Foundation, which received £19,410 of National Lottery funding, aims to educate people across the country about the coastline, the creatures which inhabit it and what can be done to protect it.  

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Claire Giner, from The 2 Minute Foundation, added, “The 2 Minute Foundation is a registered charity which is devoted to cleaning up our planet 2 minutes at a time. We believe that simple, achievable acts can add up to make a great difference. 

“If a group of people as passionate about the environment as these winners doesn’t know much about nurdles and the damage that they can do, it shows we need to go much further in educating people. In a few hours today we collected hundreds of nurdles, and each one collected and recycled is one less causing damage to marine life.  

“It’s amazing what can be achieved when we just take 2 Minutes, or even 2 hours, to help our environment, and you don’t need to be a millionaire to do that!”  

Among the winners taking part with Neil, were Taryn and Grant Hawkes from Newquay who won £1M in March 2018, Viv and Kev Moss, also from Newquay who won nearly £7M in 2008, Ruth and Peter Doyle from Wiltshire, who won £1M in 2015 and Dione and Richard Buss from Bridgwater, who won £1.8M in 2013.  

By playing any National Lottery game, players generated an average of £36M each week for National Lottery-funded projects in 2020/21. This money helps support everything from the local charity making a difference where you live through to helping our nation’s athletes win Olympic and Paralympic gold medals.  

To date, over £43 billion has been raised and distributed to National Lottery Good Causes through more than 635,000 individual grants.  

Thanks to National Lottery players, over £1.2BN is being used by charities and organisations affected by the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, which includes over £600M in funding support from the National Lottery Community Fund which is being used to help groups best placed to support people and communities through the crisis.