‘LITTER corrodes the soul” according to Colin Dexter, creator of Inspector Morse.

“I have a passionate desire to go up to anyone who drops litter, pick up their rubbish, give it back to them and ask ‘is this yours?’.

“Unfortunately I’m an 85-year-old man, not exactly ready for the rough and tumble approach any more.”

The sentiment of this Oxford resident has resonated across the whole country.

Now a national campaign – Clean For the Queen – aims to recruit one million people to collect litter to give a green and pleasant land to Her Majesty as a 90th birthday present next year.

Colin Dexter might argue that we are all really giving this gift to ourselves, and I couldn’t rightly say he would be wrong. A great gift like this happens to benefit so many, in spite of the fact so few are, under the radar, calling the shots.

One of those “few” is Oxford resident Rosanne Bostock.

She’s been part of the annual spring clean in Oxford called ‘OxClean’ for the past nine years with the Oxford Civic Society.

“This has raised public awareness,” said Rosanne.

“The council has new bins, recycling bins, solar bins, more bins, notices on the ring road, schools join in – Oxford is much cleaner.

“The first year OxClean collected 10 tons of litter. Last year we were hard put to find seven.”

Sir Hugo Brunner, the former Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire, argued: “Rosanne has changed the behaviour of people in Oxford to a quite significant extent, but of course she was assisted by a lot of other dedicated people.

“She has been very influential in the Clean For the Queen campaign in four ways.

“Most importantly the national committee wanted to hold the event during the summer because obviously it is the Queen’s official birthday in June.

“Rosanne persuaded them to hold the event in the first week of March when the litter is most visible. At that time of year, the trees and hedge rows are bare. People can see only the bones of nature and clearly the junk thoughtless people have draped over them.

“Additionally the universities and schools are still teaching so students and pupils will be able to help.

“As a result, the Clean For the Queen event will happen on the weekend of Friday, March 4, to Sunday, March 6, 2016.

“The campaign was started by a reader of Country Life magazine who also is a trustee of the Garfield Weston Foundation responsible for the transformation of the Bodleian Library building opposite the Sheldonian Theatre in Broad Street.

“When Rosanne noticed the stirrings of a national campaign she contacted the organisers and persuaded them to link up with the national charity Keep Britain Tidy.

“Now, as a result, most of the country’s main environmental charities are on board.

“Rosanne also has an eye for small details that can make a big difference.

“The Clean for the Queen campaign wanted to offer ‘official’ T-shirts to the litter picking volunteers.

“Rosanne argued they needed high visibility vests more because it can be cold in March and the volunteers will be able to wear these over their coats. Finally she urged the committee not to delay the launch until the new year and hence the Clean For the Queen campaign started last Saturday.”

Already Banbury Town Council has pledged support.

Council leader Kieron Mallon said: “Everyone has a responsibility to keep the community tidy and this campaign is an opportunity for us to improve our streets.

“I hope this will capture the imagination of residents and lead to a cleaner, tidier Banbury.”

But what are the other councils doing, and in particular Oxford?

The deadline is looming. Schools, towns, neighbourhoods can still get on the bandwagon.

If you live in Oxford you can register for OxClean at oxclean.org.uk

Outside the city go to cleanforthequeen.co.uk or contact Adrian@cleanforthequeen.co.uk

What do you have to lose? Is this one of those rare win-win bets?

But back to the initial question from Colin Dexter: does litter really eat the soul?

Well, if we won’t protect our physical environment from casual pollution, why will we protect our moral environment from the same thing?