This article was written for Fethiye Times by Sian Midgley

If you follow some of the Fethiye based Facebook groups the name Virginia Howes may have seeped in to your consciousness.

Virginia is on a mission to clean up Fethiye and over the last few months has been working with local volunteers and the Fethiye Belediyesi to do just that, following years of clearing her local area in Faralya – a job that is now done by a local paid for individual.

This isn’t the first time Virginia has got her teeth into something though so sit yourself down with a cuppa while I tell you more.

Who Is Virginia Howes?

Virginia hails from Kent in the UK and after having four children, and an epiphany whilst slogging through a pile of ironing, decided to train as a midwife. In 2003, following a number of years in the NHS, she set up the Kent Midwifery Practice with her friend, Kay. Plus she was on the board of Independent Midwives UK and became a vocal campaigner for them.

Virginia also invented the Howes Birth Mirror which is now used worldwide. And because she had a bit of spare time she also wrote a bestselling book called The Baby’s Coming.

After many years of visiting their second home in Faralya for holidays, Virginia and her husband, Sean, now split their time equally between Turkey and the UK.

Obviously retirement doesn’t sit well with Virginia though, she wasn’t going to sit back with a glass of wine and just watch the world go by – oh no, she needed to keep busy and give something back to the community and this brings us to where we are now.

The Mission Begins

Virginia organises regular clean ups throughout the area. The Belediye send out a number of helpers each time but Virginia is campaigning for a more permanent and effective solution.

One of her ideas is to ask hotels/beach clubs to take ownership of their local area, within a 2km radius, and fine them if these areas aren’t kept clean.

However, one of the biggest problems is rubbish left at local beauty spots and picnic areas such as around the Fethiye peninsula and Kidrak beach. Virginia is proposing that CCTV cameras are installed in these areas to record vehicle registration numbers of the biggest culprits, along with prominent signage. She would also like to see the Zabita get involved in issuing on the spot fines and talking to picnickers about these problems.

Highlighting The Problem

Just last week Virginia had a meeting with the Belediye cleaning department where these issues were raised. Also attending were representatives from the Zabita, 7 local Muhtars and a local councillor. Everyone present was incredibly receptive and pledged to do what they can, thanking Virginia for speaking up on a subject that was proving to be a national embarrassment. One of the Muhtars even stepped forward and offered up his boat to help remove the bags collected during clean ups on coastal hillsides.

However, it is a different department who are responsible for the beaches, forests etc so the next step is to set up a meeting with the Kaymakam (Governor).

When I had a chat with Virginia she said “People keep saying ‘they’ need to be educated and it starts in school; well that may be true but there are many years to wait for the kids to grow up and our planet needs help now! Money talks and so do fines!”

Get Involved

If you’d like to get involved in the clean ups or add your voice to Virginia’s you can get in touch with her via the Keep Fethiye Clean Facebook page.

As a footnote: on a very recent clean up they found a message in a bottle. The message was in Greek so may have travelled some distance. There was also a phone number. Hopefully they will make contact and maybe they can tell the person not to drop bottles in the sea…