Free2hire Wooden Bodyboard Scheme Announced!

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Westward Ho! becomes first Devon village to offer bodyboards without charge!

Plastic Free Torridge are proud to announce a FREE2HIRE scheme offering residents and visitors high quality wooden bodyboards to use in the ocean on Westward Ho! beach. Starting Tuesday 1st June, six adult and six child sized bodyboards will be available rent free from Kitemare Surf and Kite shop on the Green in Westward Ho!

The scheme aims to promote the use of bodyboards made from alternative materials to polystyrene. Over 16,000 cheap polystyrene bodyboards are discarded on UK beaches every year. With each board containing around one million polystyrene balls, these littered boards are a threat to both land and marine wildlife who mistake these balls for food.

“If seaside towns and villages across the UK followed Westward Ho! we could see the number of littered boards reduce dramatically”, stated Andrew Cross, Plastic Free Torridge. “The business community here in Westward Ho! decided not to sell cheap polystyrene bodyboards and are now offering boards made from alternative materials instead. With over 250,000 visitors expected this coming summer, I hope these twelve boards will encourage some to try wooden bodyboarding. We want visitors to enjoy our famous waves without harming our natural environment.”

Each child board has been illustrated from designs submitted for a competition held locally. Six winners emerged ranging in age from 6 to 15 years. Each design highlights how each child relates to the beach and the ocean. The designs include turtles, jelly fish, dolphins, a mermaid and a beach clean.

“The standard of entries were amazing. We had difficult choices to make”, commented Sadie Davis, Plastic Free Torridge. “It is inspiring for us to see the love our children have for the beach and the ocean. Many hours of work must have gone into the competition entries and we are delighted with the boards that have been made!”

The boards have been handmade by Joseph Witchell from Wet Dog Bellyboards. Each board uses reclaimed wood from the local area. The child boards are individually hand illustrated by Joseph using the winning design entries.

“Being part of this project is an honour”, confirmed Joseph Witchall. “Our family love visiting the beach and ocean at Westward Ho! Seeing the winning entries just shows how much love the younger generation have for this area too.”

The FREE2HIRE boards will be available from Kitemare Surf & Kite Shop on the Green at Westward Ho! Those renting the boards will need to complete the same forms and provide identification as if they were a paying customer but will not be charged for the hire of the boards.

“Protecting the ocean is very important to a seaside business”, stated Peter Sawyer, Owner, Kitemare Surf & Kite Shop. “It is the beach and ocean that brings visitors to Westward Ho! so it makes perfect business sense to protect both. Cheap polystyrene bodyboards have been removed from sale in Westward Ho! and rightly so. Those boards are a hazard to the very things that help our businesses succeed. I am proud be supporting this project and am ready for the summer rush.”

The scheme has been funded by Torridge District Council. Plastic Free Torridge approached local councillors to provide funds from their councillor funding pots with the funding target of £1,000 being reached within days.

“I am thrilled and very proud of the businesses in Westward Ho!”, confirmed Nick Laws, Local Councillor, Torridge District Council. “They have come together to cease the sale of Polystyrene body boards. Plastic free Torridge, is now sending the plastic free message out to all of the UK’s seaside resorts.”

For further details and comment, please contact Andrew Cross on 07886854196 or by emailing [email protected]