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The man who cleaned road signs during lockdown

By Angie Brown
BBC Scotland News

Published
image copyrightRichard Hopley
image captionRichard Hopley has been cleaning the grime off road signs since the lockdown started in March

Richard Hopley is so passionate about cleaning that he has even been scrubbing the grime off road signs.

The 46-year-old, from Edinburgh, runs his own oven cleaning business in the Scottish Borders.

When he started seeing dirty road signs during the lockdown, he decided to step in and wash them until they shone.

As the months have passed, he has continued to clean the grime off signs that he spots while travelling around eastern Scotland to work.

Mr Hopley said he got the idea after hearing about window cleaner, Jamie Simpson, who cleaned road signs for charity about two years ago.

He said: "I started seeing road signs all over the place that looked like the Devil's underpants and I thought it was a shame.

image copyrightRichard Hopley

"Some were brown from mud and others had a green film on them.

"Some were becoming hard to read, so I decided to clean the grime off them."

Mr Hopley, who lives in the Colinton area of Edinburgh, is the owner of cleaning business Borderovens.

He travels to the Borders every day to clean ovens, and has been stopping his van when he sees a dirty sign.

image copyrightRichard Hopley

At 6ft 5in tall, Mr Hopley has discovered he can reach most signs without the need for a ladder - although he sometimes needs to cut back overhanging branches.

It can take up to 30 minutes to clean each one.

Mr Hopley says he washes them with a household cleaner and water rather than the chemicals he would use on ovens.

He has spruced up signs for attractions such as the Wallace Statue, Dryburgh Abbey, Smailholm Tower and Colinton Tunnel.

image copyrightRichard Hopley
image captionRichard Hopley usually cleans ovens in people's homes

He added: "It's not the councils' fault that the signs have been getting grimy.

"The lockdown situation has meant lots of their staff are at home so I have no problem helping out.

"I enjoy cleaning as I go, so if I see a sign that's dirty then I stop - although sometimes I go back later if I'm on the way to a job."

A spokesman for Scottish Borders Council said the cleaning of non-trunk road signs was a service provided by the council.

However, it was "dependent on resources and other priority works that need carried out on the road network".

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