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Pick, Chip and Tyn!

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Tyndrum café launches campaign to tackle local litter problem amidst calls for improved local infrastructure

With growing recognition of the impact of tourism on the natural environment, one small independent business, the Real Food Café in Tyndrum, is taking matters into its own hands with a campaign of litter picking in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park – and the promise of free fish and chips for everyone taking part.

The first litter pick will take place on Sunday, 30 May in conjunction with the Keep Scotland Beautiful Campaign (28 May – 20 June) and will take place on the last Sunday of each month until October, with The Real Food Café providing volunteers with all the equipment required. Volunteers will be rewarded with free tea, coffee and biscuits plus servings of the café’s award-winning fish and chips.

20 spaces are available for each monthly event for anyone from café staff and locals, to visitors, families and senior citizens. Spaces must be pre-booked and all equipment will be provided, including high vis jackets, litter pickers and bags.

Café Manager, Colin McGeoch who is spearheading the project will weigh the litter collected each month and announce the results on social media. Colin, who lives locally, formulated the idea for the campaign as he saw the effects on the local beauty spot of increasing quantities of littering:

Colin said:“It’s been gutting to see my local area being treated like this every day on my way to work. We are proud to welcome visitors from all over the world to the Real Food Café. They come to this area because of its natural beauty but the volume of rubbish is increasingly destroying our natural environment. Community is at the heart of everything we do in the café, so we’ve decided to take the matter into our own hands. We decided to launch it to coincide with the Keep Scotland Beautiful campaign because this organisation is trying hard to tackle climate change and reducing litter and waste. “I am really looking forward to making this happen; we have had an amazing response from the community so far and I’m sure we’ll get visitors from further afield who are keen to play their part too.”

The events are welcomed by Co-owner of The Real Food Café, Sarah Heward that come amidst her calls for improved infrastructure to support rural areas. Sarah has been at the centre of talks about the infrastructure of the local area for many years. With an increase in staycations causing increased traffic in the area last summer, she created The Tyndrum Infrastructure Group. The group aims to secure funding for a Changing Places toilet, carpark, public toilets, and baby changing facilities, more bins, tourist information boards and rural housing. This will in turn better meet the needs of the community and the increasing number of visitors to and through the town.

Sarah said: “We absolutely love tourists visiting our café and the local areas, it’s our bread and butter and supports so many other rural businesses too. However, the areas are being degraded by litter and there are social issues that need to be addressed. The root of the problem is that we do not have strong infrastructure in rural Scotland. It’s not just Tyndrum that is suffering; there are similar issues in so many places from the Cairngorms to Skye.”

“The Tyndrum Infrastructure Group will continue to make progress because this simply cannot go unnoticed any longer. As a family business, we work extremely hard to recycle our waste, ensure our customers are provided with plenty bins and that are packaging is biodegradable, but we’ve seen a huge raise in litter scattered all over Tyndrum. I really hope that as many people as possible can get involved in Colin’s litter pick. After all, every little helps and we all have a duty of care to our environment.”

People can sign up to the first event by emailing The monthly litter picks will run from 10:15am – 1pm. All instructions and meeting points will be provided for attendees a week beforehand.

Further events will be announced on The Real Food Café’s social media @therealfoodcafe or check the website.

The issues associated with increased volumes of domestic tourism were also recognised this year by a new £124,000 #RespectProtectEnjoy campaign from VisitScotland, which encourages tourists to respect, protect and enjoy Scotland.

The Real Food Café, Tyndrum, Perthshire, FK20 8RY |01838 400 235 |

Twitter: @therealfoodcafe | Facebook: TheRealFoodCafe |

Sarah Heward started The Real Food Café in 2005 in what was once a derelict Little Chef premises. It is now known for its great-tasting food from its famous fish and chips to its selection of home baking. The cafe has become a valued community and tourist asset. Sarah Heward and Alan McColm have transformed it into a leading business in the tourism and hospitality sector that welcomed over 200,000 customers in 2019.  With a growing team of 20 permanent staff, Sarah and Alan’s priority is to continue to develop their team and champion careers in hospitality, particularly in the fish and chip industry.

They are committed to the SVQ Modern Apprenticeship Programme and coach and mentor junior managers through the process, the end goal is to help candidates make a real positive impact on the business. They are also an accredited Living Wage employer and one of only a few hospitality businesses in Stirling to be accredited.

In 2020 the Café won the National Fish Fryers Federation’s Quality Award Champion at the National Fish & Chip Awards and was crowned Best Informal Dining Experience at the national Thistle Awards.

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