MORE than 200 civic-minded youngsters, pensioners and school pupils combined forces to clean up Stokes Bay.
The volunteers at the picturesque beachfront in Gosport were drawn together yesterday by Marks and Spencer’s Fareham staff, including manager Laura Montford.
It comes as part of the chain’s effort to clear up 113 beaches and 50 canals across the country.
And 62 Year 3 pupils from Gomer Junior School descended on the beach after they had spent time in school learning about oceans and habitats of marine life.
Taylor Edwards had put on gloves and was making short work of litter picking.
He said: ‘We’re searching through all the stones and finding loads of rubbish and putting it away so the animals in the environment are safe.
‘I like it because we’re helping animals to live.
‘It’s a nice beach but sometimes people don’t look after it.’
Classmates Nate Morling, seven, Sophie Roper, eight, Cameron Malcolm eight and Jamie Lethbridge, eight, all agreed the morning was more fun than being in school.
Working hard in the sun, Shirley Budd, 40, from Hillside Avenue in Waterlooville said she had always wanted to take part in a litter pick.
She said: ‘I used to live in Gosport so I know the area well.
‘I thought I’d do a good deed.
‘I’ve got all these bits of net that don’t weigh anything but they are horrible to marine life.’
Everyone who took part yesterday received a £5 voucher to spend at Marks & Spencer.
That included Kevin Casey, a member of Friends of Stokes Bay, who is used to bagging up rubbish in the bay.
He said it is important people target hard-to-find pieces of trash, such as the drink carton straws he found.
He said: ‘It’s important to get the local community interested in a jewel in Gosport’s crown.
‘It’s a lovely area that’s not been overdeveloped and we’ll keep it that way, and keep it clean for children to come and play safely.
‘It’s different to other areas along the coast, it’s very unusual.’
A similar clean and barbecue will take place on Wednesday at Southsea Beach from 11am.