A teenage boy annoyed by road signs left dirty and hedges overgrown during lockdown has become a local hero after going on a mission to clean them all up.
Joseph Beer noticed dozens of neglected street signs and hedgerows while out on his daily walks with his mom Lisa, 52.
The 15-year-old soon decided he wanted to clean up the streets. With the help of dad, he rigged up a trailer to fix to the back of his bike, and started peddling around the streets near his house.
Almost every day, Joseph, from Chatteris in Cambridgeshire, England, has headed off to do more tidying up.
The youth, who has autism and ADHD, has scrubbed street signs that have been left almost unreadable due to moss growing over them. In other places, hedges have become hazards, left to grow until they almost completely obscure road directional signs from view.
Joseph’s efforts have not gone unnoticed by the people of Chatteris and surrounding towns—particularly a driving instructor who got in touch to thank him for uncovering hidden road signs.
One kindly neighbor, who Joseph’s family did not even know, was so impressed by his clean-up of the town, that she set up a GoFundMe page to reward him.
The fundraising campaign, which has now ended, raised almost £1,000 in donations.
A Sense Of Purpose
Joseph’s mom Lisa says that her son has been working “really hard” almost every day of lockdown.
“We are absolutely blown away with everything he’s done. His dad and I are so proud.
“He comes back absolutely filthy, and still carrying the bucket of water, which by the end of the day has turned black from all the cleaning he’s done.
“Then he’ll hop in the shower and get ready to do it all again the next day.”
He started sharing photos on his Facebook, too, and reports, “I’ve found it really satisfying to look at the ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures, and see the obvious improvements I’ve made to my hometown.”
His mother says he’s got an “incredible heart,” and now he wants to share the money that was raised for him. Joseph is donating to the local food bank, “for families who are struggling to feed themselves at the moment”.
The teen, who usually boards at a residential, therapeutic school during the week, had been in need of routine since the school closed in March—and he found it with the cleaning project.
“Every day he wanted to find something new and challenging to take on. He had lots and lots of energy, and he wanted to put it to practical use.
Now he points out all the things that needed cleaning or improving.
“He is noticing new things every day when we go out—so he’s still going.”