The waiting is over — today the Big Spring Clean kicks into action.
Our green army of around 3,000 adults and children is heading out on to the highways and |byways of Northern Ireland, |determined to get litter hotspots cleared up in time for the summer.
We've teamed up with Tidy Northern Ireland to galvanise people into action and tidy up the litter accumulated over the winter months.
Today, Big Spring Clean Week kicks off a series of clean-up events running until next Sunday (April 17).
The launch event at Malone House will see partners and sponsors take to the banks of the Lagan River to tackle litter along the towpath.
At last count, some 65 events had been organised by groups, businesses, schools and members of the public, involving around 3,000 adults and children.
A staggering 13,000 individuals and group members have also supported our call, including 120 councillors and 30 MLAs - among them Environment Minister Edwin Poots, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, Alliance leader David Ford and Green Party leader Steven Agnew.
We have also been supported |by the likes of Celebrity Masterchef star Dick Strawbridge, TV presenter Lynda Bryans, TV |wedding planner Anthony Miller, presenter Katie Larmour and Belfast Fashionweek director Cathy Martin.
Many groups also organised clean-ups in the run-up to Big Spring Clean Week, with litter targeted everywhere from Cookstown to Newry, Whitehead to Garvagh and from the Sixmilewater River to Ram’s Island in Lough Neagh.
One of the most recent was held in the New Lodge, Newington and Carrick Hill areas of Belfast, where more than 100 people dug in for a major spring clean.
The adults worked to clear away the results of a recent upsurge in graffiti, while children from Kinder Kids at the Ashton Centre, the Star Neighbourhood Nursery and the 174 Trust headed out with the litter pickers to fill binbags with sweet and crisp wrappers and plastic bottles.
The clean-up was organised by Greater New Lodge Community Empowerment Partnership with support from Belfast City Council, which provided power-washing teams, mechanical road sweepers and other equipment to help with the job.
City Council community safety wardens assisted clean-up volunteers in the removal of the unsightly graffiti.
It’s not too late to organise an event for Big Spring Clean Week or get involved in a litter pick. All you have to do is visit the website www.tidynorthernireland.org/|big-spring-clean.