Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, has paid tribute to Greater Cambridge’s waste and recycling collection crews during a royal visit.
Her Royal Highness today visited the Waterbeach home of the Greater Cambridge Shared Waste Service, which is a partnership between South Cambridgeshire District and Cambridge City Councils.
The 150 colleagues at the service collect recycling and waste from residents of both areas. As critical workers, they have continued to provide this vital frontline service from the very beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic. This has been at a time when more household recycling and waste has been generated as people have spent much more time at home.
The outdoors visit, which always followed social distancing guidelines, was arranged via the Cambridgeshire Lieutenancy Office. HM Lord-Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire, Mrs Julie Spence OBE QPM, was present.
During the visit, Her Royal Highness and the Lord-Lieutenant spoke to refuse loaders and bin lorry drivers who have continued to ensure waste and recycling has been collected despite pressures from the Coronavirus pandemic. At times during the past year, around a quarter of Shared Waste Service staff have been absent from work due to sickness or self-isolation. Managers at the service who support crews in their daily duties were also present for the royal visit.
The Princess Royal was also shown the Shared Waste Service’s new electric bin lorry. The Dennis Eagle eCollect is the first electric bin lorry to be operating in Cambridgeshire. The introduction of the vehicle late last year marked the start of a drive to replace all the Service’s collection lorries with electric or hydrogen vehicles as their existing trucks come to the end of their working lives.
Refuse crew member Hayley Resztan said: “It was nice to meet The Princess. Her Royal Highness was interested in how I recycle at home too, and whether I started recycling more when I began working here. I’ve always taken care to recycle though.”
Ray Frost, a Street Cleansing Operative, added: “It was nice of The Princess to come and chat about how she was interested in street cleansing and all the crews that work here, who keep the streets clean for us all and have been working hard throughout pandemic.”
Greg Hutton-Squire, from Greater Cambridge Commercial Waste, commented: “It was very pleasant to meet The Princess and good of Her Royal Highness to show an interest in us. The Princess was interested in business waste, and the number of organisations and schools that we collect recycling from.”
HM Lord-Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire, Mrs Julie Spence OBE QPM, said: “It is a real honour to welcome HRH The Princess Royal to Waterbeach, to say thank you to some of the unsung heroes of the pandemic, our refuse collectors, without whom our streets would have been unimaginable. We owe a lot to the teams who have worked tirelessly through all weathers, and the virus, to ensure that we have maintained a safe and clean environment.”
The Chairman of South Cambridgeshire District Council, Cllr Douglas de Lacey, said: “During the past year, our crews have had to work harder than ever. Despite the continuing pandemic, they have been out daily across every corner of Greater Cambridge to ensure bins have been emptied. We are so proud of them and this royal visit symbolises the vital job that they do for every household across Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire. The royal recognition is testament to the vital job that we rely on our refuse loaders, drivers and those who support them to perform day in and day out.”
The Mayor of Cambridge, Cllr Russ McPherson, said: “I’d also like to thank our residents because they have been incredibly supportive during the past 12 months. It has been fantastic to see the thank you notes and pictures sent in to our waste crews. With each loader walking the equivalent of a half marathon every single day, they do a tough job in normal times. The past year has shown just how much we rely on them. Our thanks to Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal and the Lord-Lieutenant for taking the time to stop by to talk to our teams and thank them for their service.”