Volunteers from the Let’s Get Grangemouth Clean campaign and youngsters from Grangemouth 1333 Squadron had just spent three hours on Tuesday night picking up 50 black bags full of litter to ensure the memorial was spick and span for its part in the RAF’s 100th anniversary celebrations later this month.
Then this morning – to their horror and disgust – they found the Bo’ness Road memorial, which features a full sized replica Spitfire and a wall with the names of pilots who lost their lives while training in the town, was covered in waste from nearby tipped over blue bins which had been out on the street for collection.
James Molloy, one of the clean up crew, said: “We were all down there last night from 6pm to 9pm picking up rubbish – we must have collected 50 bags – and then we find this mess. It’s really frustrating.
“Some people are saying it might have been the wind, but there were a lot of bins lying on the ground for it to have just been the wind.”
The matter was reported to the police and to Falkirk Council, who responded quickly to the situation.
James said: “The council have been fantastic, they had a team out really early this morning and road sweepers to clean up the mess.”
A project which took over five years to complete, the full-size Spitfire replica was the last piece of a tribute to the pilots who lost their lives in World War Two while serving with Grangemouth’s 58 Operational Training Unit and was unveiled in 2013.
Former squadron commanding officer Tom McMorrow said the project had been “life-changing” and had not only transformed the section of land at Bo’ness Road, but also the cadets themselves, giving them a real sense of achievement and pride.
The memorial will play a starring role in the Royal Air Force’s 100th anniversary celebrations when the UK RAF 100 Baton Relay comes to town.
Taking place from 2pm on Saturday, May 26 at the memorial, the event will include representatives from the RAF, Air Cadets, Grangemouth High School singers and, weather permitting, a fly past.
Squadron leader McMorrow said: “We hope children and their families will take the time to appreciate the men and women of the RAF. This is going to be a very proud day for the RAF, 1333 (Spitfire) Squadron and all air training cadets.”
The Let’s Get Grangemouth Clean initiative, which is organised by Phylis McCaskill, encourages everyone in the town to help with clean-up operations in some of the areas worst affected by litter.
Phylis said: “I’ve never seen Grangemouth looking so bad, and especially right now when there is very little vegetation, it looks worse than ever. We all complain about litter and wait for someone else to clean it up but I decided I can’t sit back and look at it any longer – it sickens me – so it’s time to do something about it.
“I’ve started litter picking where I live and where I walk and would love to encourage others to join in. Go outside and pick up the litter in your garden, street and in the green areas where your children play. If everybody does just a little bit it could make a huge difference.”
Visit www.facebook.com/GlitterCampaign for more information.