Semley School Pupil Sorts Out Shaftesbury Litter Spot

Any Shaftesbury resident can help make our town a better place to live, whatever their age. That’s Aoife Henty’s experience. The 9-year old Semley School pupil wrote to Shaftesbury Town Council with her concerns over the amount of litter piling up in foliage behind the Tesco car park recycling bins.

“It is a hedge, not a bin,” Aoife wrote in her letter. “Near Tesco, there was a pile of rubbish that I didn’t really like. It was in the hedge and it could have stopped all of the plants growing,” Aoife explained to

Aoife described the rubbish pile as being similar to the height of a dog. “It was plastic bags and old towels. Every week it got a little bit bigger,” she said.

Aoife Henty with Shaftesbury Mayor Piers Brown

Aoife shared her concerns about the litter with her mother. “I told her that’s not very nice. And she said, ‘Why don’t you write a letter about it?’ So I did.” Aoife wrote to Shaftesbury Town Council outlining her worry. “I wrote about how it could pollute,” she said.

The volunteer Hilltop Litter Pickers had previously expressed concern about the rubbish that was collecting behind the recycling bins. And when the Town Council received Aoife’s note, they contacted the County Council. The staff in Dorchester asked the Environmental Health team to speak with Tesco. The supermarket agreed to meet Aoife’s request to clear the rubbish as part of their community programme.

Aoife says that she is ‘really proud’ that the six foot high fence is in now in place, screening off the area behind the recycling bins and preventing more littering – all because she wrote her letter. And she says that her school friends thought that the result of her letter was ‘really good’.

So what does Aoife do when she spots litter now? “If it is safe, I try and pick it up,” she said.

Earlier this week, Shaftesbury Mayor, Piers Brown, met Aoife to thank her and inspect the new fence. Aoife’s mum, Katie Penman, said that she is proud of her daughter. Aoife has always been an independent thinker and often enters writing competitions, Katie said.

Aoife doesn’t always receive a reply so Katie was delighted when the Town Council acknowledged her daughter’s request. Katie hopes that the experience has empowered Aoife, now she knows how taking action can bring about a positive change.