Before 2019, much of Seaford was unaware of its growing single-use plastic problem. Those that were aware were missing the coordination to turn their concerns in to actions. Enter Claire Sumners.

As an advocate for the incredible work carried out by Surfers Against Sewage - a marine conservation charity working with communities to protect oceans, waves, beaches and marine life - Claire was appointed Seaford’s local lead. Claire wasted no time in getting around the town talking to as many people as she could, questioning what was done and how it was done, and getting the town to stand up and admit that there was a single-use plastic problem that needed addressing.

Claire worked passionately, alongside many other local volunteers, to make sure the town was committed to taking action against the use of single-use plastics, rather than just talking about it. In 2020, Seaford was awarded its plastic free status. This was under the guidance and motivation of Claire and her fellow Plastic Free Seaford champions, both businesses and individuals.

Claire was incredibly proud of Seaford but was always adamant that the townspeople and businesses couldn’t sit back on their laurels – this was just the start, Seaford needed to take what it had achieved and strive to be better. For example, she helped the Town Council with its own ‘Single Use Plastics Policy.’

Seaford Town Council was deeply saddened at the news of Claire passing. The Town Council wants to make sure to honour Claire’s legacy and ensure that all her efforts will not be in vain. The Town Council will be considering this carefully over the coming months and looking at suitable steps it can take to make this happen.

In the meantime, the thoughts of all of the Town Council’s members and staff are with Claire’s family and friends during this very challenging time.

The Mayor of Seaford, Councillor Rodney Reed, worked closely with Claire on a number of projects and says ‘From my first meeting with Claire I was impressed by her energy, drive and determination. I was pleased to represent the Town Council on the Steering Group of Plastic Free Seaford and it was there that I began to see more of Claire’s vision not just for the environment of Seaford but for the planet. Claire understood that lots of small actions do make a real difference. I volunteered in some beach cleans and it took some very bad weather to stop Claire leading a beach clean. Claire has shown us to way to go forward and we secure her legacy by pressing ahead with her work.”

Pictured: Claire receiving her Mayor's Award for Sustainability in 2021.