AN inspirational ten-year-old from Hartlepool is on the shortlist for a prestigious national Litter Hero award for her outstanding local litter-tackling efforts.

Jessica Stones was nominated by Hartlepool Borough Council for the prestigious Keep Britain Tidy Network Litter Hero Award in recognition of her work establishing ‘The Seaton Beach Squad’.

The eco-minded youngster set up the now 220-strong squad to help clean up Seaton Carew’s beaches after learning about the harmful impact of waste on beaches and sea life at school.

Tony Hanson, Assistant Director of Environment and Neighbourhood Services at the Council, said: “Jessica is a true role model and testament to Hartlepool. Everyone is extremely proud of her and we are delighted she has been shortlisted in the category.

“On her own initiative she established the squad, recruited over 200 members, and now regularly spends her Sundays carrying out litter picks and spurring her team on.

“This national award recognises those in our communities who make an outstanding contribution to helping the local environment and reducing litter, and we could not think of a better candidate than Jessica.”

The Mayor of Hartlepool, Councillor Paul Beck, added: “The Mayoress and I attended one of the Squad’s beach cleans, and we were truly inspired that children so young were taking such pride in the area they call home.

“Those clean ups are only possible because of Jessica’s hard work and dedication. Everyone here at the Council wishes her the very best of luck.”

Jessica has previously hosted several assemblies at her school, St Cuthbert’s Primary School in Hartlepool, encouraging classmates to also take an active interest in the environment and reducing the problem of litter.

Caroline Stones, Jessica’s mum, said: “We cannot put into words how proud we are of her passion and love for the local area and her commitment to make a difference.

“She is our little litter hero and our girl’s small actions will be the start of big changes, because she can be and do anything she wants to.”

The Keep Britain Tidy Network Awards will take place on Thursday 8th February 2018 in Brighton.