‘Hero’ Roley not alone in her work

Environmental champion Roley Walton. Picture: comp
Environmental champion Roley Walton. Picture: comp
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A RETIRED teacher honoured in her local community for environmental work has now been recognised by Clean Up Scotland.

Roley Walton, who is in her early 80s, has been presented with the prestigious Clean Up Scotland hero of the month award for December.

The certificate of recognition, presented by environmental charity Keep Scotland Beautiful, is awarded to the stand-out individual or organisation which has helped make a genuine difference to their local area.

Ms Walton said: “As a former biology teacher, ecology was part of my career. I moved to Dedridge in 1976 and when I retired my interest grew even further. I know from experience that if you leave litter and mess it encourages more.

“It is very important not to litter in order to save the habitats of small mammals, as we find many voles stuck in crisp packets.

“If everyone does their bit and picks up litter or fails to drop it, there would be no problem.”

Ms Walton, who previously taught at Currie Community High School, was honoured for her involvement with Dedridge Environment Ecology Project – DEEP – in Livingston.

Described as a “driving force” behind the collective – which aims to clean up the local area and discourage antisocial behaviour – over the past six years, Ms Walton has helped to drain ponds and worked with schoolchildren to reintroduce native plants and wildlife.

This is by no means the first time that her conservation efforts have been recognised – a Currie woodland has been named after her.

The name Roley’s Wood was chosen after the then-biology teacher was approached in 1989 by sixth-year pupils who wished to enter a contest on improving the environment. Ms Walton championed their efforts, and the decision was taken to name the cleared woodland after her in 2001.

Despite being told at the time that “no-one has done more to improve the school grounds and to raise awareness of the richness of our environment”, Ms Walton insisted that the pupils were the ones who deserved the most credit.

She did admit, though, that it was this project which inspired her to carry on helping the environment.

She said: “Once I had done that, my life changed completely. I suddenly realised that there was conservation work that I had the ability to do.”

In 2009, Ms Walton was included in a list published by Evening News sister newspaper The Scotsman detailing those who had done the most for the Scottish environment.

In March 2012, she was honoured at the RSPB Nature of Scotland Awards for her conservation work with the outstanding contribution to nature conservation award. She said: “It embarrasses me to get sole credit for something I couldn’t have done by myself.”