A MAN has turned his passion for walking into an environmental activity for the benefit of his town.

Norman Smith, 76, claims he has managed to walk the equivalent of half-way around the world litter-picking around Bicester.

He first started walking as a hobby when he was 51 after joining The Ramblers Association based in Banbury and the Long Distance Walking Association later on.

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The walker from Bicester would take part in all sorts of challenges including walking 100 miles in just 48 hours.

He started litter-picking after being made aware of a litter problem in Bicester three years ago.

He said: “In January 2016, I saw an article published in the Bicester Advertiser about cars stopping at traffic lights and drivers throwing their rubbish in the hedges and greenery by the road.

“So I started litter-picking around Bicester as I walked and now I’ve walked the equivalent of half-way around the world.”

Mr Smith, who has completed 219 marathons and has spent £1,220 on trainers since taking up the hobby, has walked 74,618 statute miles in 24 years and 12,436 miles in four years litter-picking around the town.

Oxford Mail:

He believes that keeping the environment clean is important and is conscious about his carbon footprint - so much so that he has walked 1,000 miles more than his car has covered this year and still uses a plastic water bottle that he found 25 years ago.

He said it’s important to encourage others by leading by example.

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He said: “I’m always looking for challenges to do. I enjoy what I do immensely and so when I bump into people everyday I always try to encourage others to do the same. I try to enthuse them."

Mr Smith, who retired from being a pilot when he was 48, wants people to ditch their cars and walk more often, particularly to destinations that are nearby.

He said: “People worship their cars. It’s a shame seeing so many people using them these days. I’d walk three miles around Bicester and it’s easy. I don’t know why parents pick their children up from sports events in their cars. It’s not the right thing to do.”

The walker, who has lived in Sudan for 11 years and has flown with the Red Cross delivering aid in Africa, believes young people are partly to blame for littering in the town.

Oxford Mail:

He said: “Younger people are not eating three meals a day but are instead going to convenience stores to buy crisps, snacks and fizzy drinks, leaving their packaging on the floor."

Mr Smith also says walking helps him to stay "as fit as a fiddle" and managed to lose one kilogram in 100 miles by walking ten miles a day consecutively.

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Bicester Green Gym, a community group that encourages people to get physically and mentally fit by working outdoors and making improvements to the environment, support his endeavours.