Bear Grylls praises town's eco-friendly scout 'ambassador'
- Credit: Contributed
Eco-friendly Sidmouth youngsters are doing their bit for the planet and pioneering two new blanket badges at the same time.
The 1st Sid Vale Scout Group has joined forces with Eco-Tableware company, Stroodles, and Bywaters, a Leading recycling company in London.
After the launch a team of Cub Scouts will take part in a litter pick on Sidmouth beach, becoming the first in the UK to earn two new blanket badges called ‘Ocean Helper’ and ‘Ocean Hero’.
The project has been led by nine-year-old 1st Sid Vale Scout member and environmentalist Thomas Franklin.
Thomas was instrumental in gaining sponsorship for his group who were supplied with the litter picking equipment and blanket badges by Stroodles and Bywaters.
It is hoped the new badges will be rolled out across the rest of Scouting.
Adventurer Bear Grylls, who is also Chief Scout, has thrown his weight behind the idea, as has the East Devon District Commissioner for the movement.
Bear described Thomas as 'a great ambassador for the scouting movement' and 'one of our true shining lights'.
He added: “I totally agree we need to help more young people understand this issue and take positive action.”
Thomas's vision is for the whole of Scouting to be 'Plastic Clever' which means understanding the impact on the environment of plastics and microplastics, avoiding using single-use plastics, carrying out regular litter picks and reducing, reusing and recycling plastic wherever possible.
The youngster, who has been a keen naturalist and environmentalist for the last four years, has given a talk to his Cub pack and they have all voted to be ‘plastic clever’.
Every year, eight million metric tons of plastic enters our oceans, causing lasting damage to biodiversity and ocean ecosystems.
Maxim Gelmann, Chief Stroodle and Founder of Stroodles, said: “We are so so happy to be partnering with Thomas and Bywaters and together with the Scouts inspiring so many people about how easy and fun sustainability can be! We are excited to be creating many, many Ocean Heroes together all across the UK and making a splash.”
Thomas said “I want the whole of scouting to be plastic clever and do more to help save our world. All the young people in scouting can make a huge difference to the environment and be an example to others. Scouting needs to take action to save our planet now!"
Thomas first became inspired to help the environment and fight plastic pollution after watching Blue Planet 2 in 2017, just after his sixth birthday.
He designed and made his own fancy dress costume for a competition and went on to win.
His costume was made from recycled plastic and promoted his slogan ‘The sea is not a dustbin’. He continued to wear it around the town and sold homemade badges displaying his slogan for charity. The former mayor of Budleigh, Cllr Thomas Wright, was so impressed that he wanted to use Thomas’s photograph in talks he gave as the environment portfolio holder.
Later that year, Thomas used the Sidmouth Folk Festival to spread the word and made use of the Morris Dancers’ culture of collecting and swapping badges to get his message to a wider audience.
Thomas enthusiastically carries out regular river, beach and countryside clean-ups. In particular he focuses on the Otter. His love of wildlife and concern for the environment spurs him on to remove as much plastic and other rubbish from the river, which is home to beavers, otters and so much wildlife.
He won a national competition to find the 16 most influential people under the age of 16 in the fight against plastic pollution, litter and other sustainability-led issues.
Two of the judges for the competition were Amy and Ella Meek, founders of ‘Kids Against Plastic’.
They invited Thomas to join their group and he went on to become the first person to achieve their silver and then their gold-level awards.
He was also asked by the Devon Wildlife Trust to run several workshops at Seaton Jurassic.