Sky Scholars Francesca Summers and Ellen Keane clean beaches for Ocean Rescue

By Mark Ashenden

Last Updated: 18/06/2018, 12:01 GMT

Francesca Summers and Ellen Keane
Francesca Summers and Ellen Keane collected rubbish for Sky Ocean Rescue

Sky Sports Scholars Francesca Summers and Ellen Keane got stuck into their local beaches to help boost the fight against ocean plastics.

Sky Ocean Rescue was unveiled in January 2017 across the UK with the campaign gathering momentum earlier in June with a launch in Ireland.

The initiative aims to shine a spotlight on the issues affecting ocean health, find innovative solutions to the ocean plastic problems and inspire people to make small everyday changes that collectively make a huge difference.

Find out more on how Sky is fighting ocean plastics

Modern pentathlete Summers and Para-swimmer Keane took time out from their busy sporting schedule to do their bit to clean up the beaches in their area.

Summers, 22, has just finished her studies in Paris and visited Brighton - an hour from hometown Dorking.

She said: "I love beaches and I jumped at the chance to take part in the Sky Ocean Beach clean to help give back to our world and protect the animals which need looking out for.

"As I walked down the pebbly beach to meet the Sky volunteers surrounded by the big #Passonplastic flags, I thought how great it was to have such a big successful company supporting the campaign to help save our oceans and create awareness.

"The seagulls played an entertaining role during the day, firstly stealing a sandwich off helper Rob and then depositing a rather unfriendly package on my head!

"Having all the environmental disasters created by humans outlined to us made our task even more meaningful and we were all eager to play our part in contributing to a cleaner world.

"There were three bags we had to fill. One for plastic, a pouch for old cigarettes and one for everything else. Each material we found was recorded on a tally sheet for further research.

"We were split into teams and we had an hour to pick up anything which was unnatural along a 100m length of beach. This was to keep the same area controlled so the results can be compared to other beach cleans.

"I struggled to find much to start with apart from pebbles! I carried on looking hard and then started spotting things like beer bottle caps, glass, fishing net, tape, plastic. It was mostly small things but it all adds up and as soon as I started seeing things I couldn't stop!

"I was so happy to help make a difference and I really enjoyed my day. I will definitely do the next beach clean at Brighton or any nearby beach. In our 100m we collected an astonishing 9kg of material. So that's 9kg less to damage innocent animals in the ocean.

"Feeling delighted to have contributed to a great cause, I headed home just in time for an afternoon training session, with a new Sky Ocean Rescue t-shirt and a very burnt forehead!"

The 23-year-old Keane took a break from her pool preparations for the World Para European Championships in her home city of Dublin in August.

She added: "I was really proud to be part of the launch for Sky Ocean Rescue in Ireland. It took place on my home beach in Clontarf where I grew up.

"I never knew the extent of the problem with our oceans and plastic until I became a Sky Sports Scholar so I was so excited to see the programme come to my home town.

"It's terrifying what is happening to our oceans and the only way people will know about it is if they're educated in the harsh reality of plastic which is exactly what this scheme is doing.

"I just hope other businesses will get on board because no matter how much a consumer does to reduce the amount of plastic they buy it's also up to producers to rescue the amount of plastic they use and ultimately find an alternative.

"We just have to take it one plastic bottle at a time."

More details on how Sky is fighting ocean plastics