Sophie lives here in Shrewsbury, Shropshire. Like many millions of other people from around the world, who watched David Attenborough’s ‘Blue Planet’ she was appalled at the effects of plastic waste on wildlife in the oceans and galvanised into action. On 1st January 2018, her New Year’s resolution was to start a Shrewsbury initiative to reduce single-use plastic waste.
Sophie has spent the last 7 years working as a speech trainer with young people in schools across the country, helping them to develop the skills to give speeches on topics they feel passionate about in front of an audience. Global warming, plastic waste in the oceans and caring for our environment are recurring themes that the children give speeches about. Watching children speak with real passion on a daily basis, Sophie couldn’t help but feel a sense of responsibility; after all, she was sitting and listening to them but not actually doing anything to make a difference. Ironically it has taken her until the age of 51 to feel that she, too, has the confidence to speak out about what she cares about. Despite being slow to recognize that it was within her grasp to influence change, the time has now come.
In the past, she has felt downhearted and overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the environmental challenges we, as humans, face. She felt the need to be part of something positive that will make a difference here in the community. Inspired by what was achieved in Freiburg, Germany, a forward-looking university city, which launched the re-usable Freiburg Cup in October 2016, she visited Freiburg in July 2018 to meet the people behind the project. Thanks to their help and advice and a lot of conversations with people here in the town, and one very determined, dynamic and knowledgeable colleague, Alison Thomas, the Shrewsbury Cup has taken shape. It feels like a small-scale, positive initiative that makes people stop and think and empowers them to be the change they want to see in the world. She feels lucky to live in a small, creative, dynamic community like Shrewsbury where there is a healthy appetite for positive change.
Sophie is the first to acknowledge that the Shrewsbury Cup is not going to save the world. However, this feels like a very positive contribution we can all make and could be the inspiration for other initiatives in Shrewsbury.