A “hero” litter-picking pensioner who recently sustained serious injuries is being nominated for a community award.

Norman Smith, 79, has been nominated for a Sanctuary Love Where You Live Award after six years of litter picking around Bicester, a service which he provided freely as part of his long-distance walks.

Beatrice Foster, member of Bicester Green Gym, will be taking Norman to the awards evening – hosted by Cherwell District Council - which will take place at Bodicote House, in Banbury, on September 8.

Mr Smith said: “All the nominating happened over Facebook, so I wasn’t really aware of it until I received a letter from a lady at Cherwell District Council inviting me to the awards.

“During the Covid era I restricted my walking to within three miles radius of my house, and a lot of people would see me and ask me what I was doing.

“They weren’t used to seeing someone walking around picking up litter I suspect.

Read more: Local hero who walked thousands of miles collecting litter has to quit

“But I think that might be when people started to notice me.

“Because of my accident earlier this year I can’t drive anymore, so a lady from Bicester Green Gym has offered to take me.

“I’ve been told that I don’t need to give a speech, but I have asked if I can say a few words about walking for fitness.”

On June 1 this year, Norman had an unexpected fall whilst walking to water an oak sapling he planted in Bernwood Nature Reserve.

The accident left him blind in his left eye, and has caused his thighs and knees to become weaker, making it difficult for him to walk as far as he did.

He said: “I’m afraid that after my fall my thighs and knees are no longer as willing as they were.

“I’m still doing some walking, but I’m now riding my bike rather more.

“I’m walking around 60 miles a month now, instead of 260 miles.

“I’m suffering from a lack of a plan, my annual plan used to be to reach 3000 miles a year, and I’ve done 1400 this year.

“But at 79 you have to listen to your body. I still pick up some litter, but on a reduced scale.”

Mr Smith has been endurance walking for 27 years, starting in 1995 upon his return from piloting planes in Africa.

He told the Bicester Advertiser that his main aim was to walk the equivalent distance of the circumference of the world, and in 27 years he said he has done it three times over.

He added he was a member of The Ramblers Association in Banbury, and the Long-Distance Walking Association, and that he has gone through 27 pairs of walking boots since he began long-distance walking.


Read more from this author

This story was written by Matthew Norman, he joined the team in 2022 as a Facebook community reporter.

Matthew covers Bicester and focuses on finding stories from diverse communities.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Matthew.norman@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @OxMailMattN1

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