Points of Light Award awarded to Rob Thompson by UK Prime Minister Theresa May

Points of Light are outstanding individual volunteers – people who are making a change in their community.

Our Founder, Rob Thompson is the 918th person to have every been awarded this award for all his consistent and excellent hard work concerning marine plastic debris.

As founder of ‘Fathoms Free’ an environmental organisation focused on removing man-made litter from the sea, Rob was troubled by the thought of the vast quantities of plastic collected by him and his volunteers ending up in landfill. His ‘Paddle for Plastic’ campaign is a pioneering and ambitious plan to make kayaks out of the plastics gathered and then get communities using these kayaks to collect yet more plastic waste.

In a personal letter to Rob, Prime Minister Theresa May said:

“You have shown remarkable ingenuity in developing a model which will not only collect discarded plastic from the sea, but recycle it so it can be used to collect more debris. Your pioneering work is preserving our seas for future generations.”

Rob said:

“I’m pleased to have won this award. It’s come completely out of the blue. Part of the reason it’s come as such a surprise, I think, is that I don’t really think of what I’m doing as volunteering. To me, it’s all tied in with my leisure time and enjoying being out there working with my friends, doing a lot of volunteer activities. I’m protecting part of the coastline that I love and I’m very lucky to live nearby. For me I’m just doing what comes naturally and the marine plastic issue is something that anybody can engage in, it’s a very simple subject for anyone to get involved with and do their bit.

“It started four years ago with a group of divers doing an underwater clean-up of a cove in Cornwall. We found thousands of pieces of marine plastics. Some people wanted to carry on working, so we ended up setting up a community group to do this. From that we’ve gone on to do beach cleans and awareness events, but also looking at recycling those marine plastics into products. I’ve recently set up ‘Odyssey Innovation’ where I’ll be making several sit-on-top kayaks out of the plastics we gather, which then will be used for cleaning up the oceans.”

To read more please visit or check out our Paddle for Plastic page.

10 November 2019

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