Scouts paint the Long Man of Wilmington

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It was a far cry from washing cars for the old bob-a-job week when 80 Scouts from Hailsham and Heathfield District gave the Long Man of Wilmington a lick of paint on Saturday.

For their national community week, the youngsters made the 235ft tall figure a shade whiter.

Andy Wyllie, Group Scout Leader of 1st Hellingly, said: “The kids had a great time and came back with happy, smiling faces and a bit mucky.”

He said the idea for the community project was the brainchild of scout leader Kevin Brundle during a regular hike in that area, who was talking to one of the parents who works on the farmland around the Long Man.

“About 3,000 projects are going on this week and our one has been the focus nationally,” said Andy.

“We were fortunate enough to have the media team from scout headquarters down here.”

On Saturday, parents were able to sit in the sun and watched while the youngsters painted the iconic figure and then enjoyed a barbeque at the Long Man pub.

Paint and materials were supplied by the community week’s national sponsor B&Q, although Andy said they misjudged how much they would need.

“We were out by about 30 metres and had to make an emergency run to B&Q for another 30 litres,” he said.

He thanked B&Q and also the Ellis family who farm the land for clearing a field for parking and walking up to the site.

Sussex Archaeological Society, which maintains the site, also helped with reseating and replacing stones and cutting grass.

“It was a real community project with lots of people involved and making it happen,” said Andy.

The scouts also held a bag pack at Eastbourne for community week and raised £300 for Delmelza hospices.

As for what they will do next year, Andy said: “We have already talked about it and we will struggle with something to top that.

“Normally it is litter picking or clearing the beach or something like that but we will try to come up with something.”

The Long Man requires ongoing maintenance and Sussex Archaeological Society (Sussex Past) is working on a joint project with The South Downs National Park Authority to help preserve the site.

The painting by the scouts is part of this project and the next steps will be to improve the communication around him to inform of his history and importance as the “guardian of the South Downs”.

See the Scouts at work at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7A1FsoM6Ytk