A giant man of rusting steel sits gazing out across the sea in permanent thought. Flat cap, large overcoat with his walking stick in one hand just peacefully reflecting on life. Freddie Gilroy was a former miner from County Durham who, as a soldier shortly before his 24th birthday, was one of the first allied troops to enter Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany in April 1945 where they found more than 60,000 prisoners, most of them seriously ill, and thousands of unburied corpses.
For more information on Freddie Gilroy and the Belsen Stragglers click here.
Here in the UK, we manage to produce more than 100 million tonnes of waste every year. In less than two hours, the waste we produce would fill the Albert Hall in London, every eight months it would fill Lake Windermere, the largest and deepest lake in England. The cost of cleaning up all that litter costs taxpayers almost a billion pounds every year.£1billion would fund 38,644 social care workers or pay the running costs of 4,400 libraries. Alternatively, it would enable the NHS to pay for 33,200 nurses or 26,900 paramedics or allow the fire brigade to fund 31,990 extra firefighters each year. The £1billion spent on cleaning our streets could pay for 704,200 elderly household electricity and gas bills for a year or pay for one billion free school dinners – more than enough for every primary school child in England for a year. The money could be invested in the green economy to help support more sustainable and healthy ways of life. Help make more than 333,000 homes more energy efficient or create more than 193,000 community food growing spaces.
“Afternoon boss.” I smile, acknowledge the welcome with a slight nod of the head and sit down. There are 2 people before me and the 3 chairs are already occupied. Intermittent silence is broken with idle chat concerning a variety of subjects, cars, football, local curiosity, disputes, and hearsay. Men getting their haircut can be a curious ritual, but one passed down from father to son.