Lonely Planet Writer

Meet the Welsh family dedicating their weekends to keep Pendine Beach clean

This family have made it their mission to keep a spectacular seven-mile beach in Wales as pristine as can possibly be. Pendine Beach is best known as the location for some of the earliest land speed records … where motor enthusiasts would use its famously flat surface to break the record for the world’s fastest moving car.

Rubbish collected on Pendine Beach in just two minutes
Isaac Rees and Emi Chubb with rubbish collected in a two-minute spell.Image courtesy of Julie O’Shea

During the week, the beach is closed to visitors as it’s used by the Ministry of Defence but on weekends visitors descend from near and far for walking, cycling, swimming, bodyboarding and kayaking.

Among the weekly arrivals are Julie O’Shea and her partner Tim Rees, along with their children Mitch O’Shea (15), Emi Chubb (12) and Isaac Rees (5). Every weekend, they scour the sands for rubbish for at least two hours, and have found some very unusual items.

The family even removed a discarded fridge from the beach
Some of the rubbish collected on Pendine Beach. Image courtesy of Julie O’Shea

Julie O’Shea told Lonely Planet: “We started originally picking up just plastic bottles, usually around four black bags at a time. When we’d run out of bottles we moved onto anything else we could carry. “[At one stage] we came across a fridge [and] we were lucky that we have a Landrover defender pickup, which we drove down the beach to pick up the fridge and a huge piece of ghost net that had washed in.”

They’ve also built a rubbish sculpture, which has become something of an attraction itself, with people adding pieces to the impromptu artwork. Julie said: “Unfortunately we also come across huge numbers of balloon release remnants, more than 100 in the first six months of this year, and I am passionate about trying to educate people to the danger that these remnants can present to wildlife, cattle and even pets.”

Sculpture made from collected rubbish
Rubbish sculpture on Pendine Beach. Image courtesy of Julie O’Shea

The first mile of Pendine has been cleaned up dramatically by their efforts but alas the tide can of course bring in new supplies of rubbish. Of the family, five-year-old Isaac likes the trash hunt most of all because of all the toys he has found. “We’ve picked up so many plastic sand toys we did a beach toy ‘library’ last year, so people could use and recycle them,” said Julie.