Exmouth road cleaner’s short - but sweep - messages

An Exmouth road sweeper has rallied a cult following with his daily inspirational messages swept into the seafront sand

Steve Fox, 44, of Carlton Hill, has proved he has plenty of br-br broom when it comes to succeeding in his mission of singlehandedly brightening up the lives of seafront visitors by leaving daily inspirational messages swept into the sand on the pavement at Orcombe Point.

Such is the popularity of Steve’s words of wisdom he has now forged a small following of between 60 and 150 loyal followers who flock to read his daily thought.

The district council road sweeper, who takes time from his lunch break to create his motivational message, began leaving his trail of thought during June’s world cup.

He said the idea took off the day after England was booted out of the competition – and Steve voiced the thoughts of the nation when he swept the words ‘disgraceful’ onto the pavement.

“Everybody knew what it meant with the one word,” said Steve, who has been sweeping the seafront since March. “Then people said ‘are you doing more tomorrow?’

“Sometimes it is easy to know what to say and takes ten minutes, but doing it everyday, I am sometimes stuck for something to say.

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“People have stopped me on the street and said ‘it’s fantastic’, or further along the seafront they ask me what today’s message is. It’s surprising really. I am blown away by it. I didn’t expect it to snowball like this.

“I want to share the environment I work in with someone else. If I can do that I can go home a happy man – I have done something positive. There’s so much negativity in the world and I am very optimistic.”

Dog walker Stella Munn, 61, from Feniton, said: “It’s absolutely brilliant. So many people talk about it. It’s a really nice thing to do when there’s so much horrible stuff going on in the world.”

On Monday Steve’s message ‘The power of optimism’ was prompted after a passer-by commented on his sunglasses – worn despite a rainy weather forecast.

Steve has previously got seafront visitors hugging with his messages ‘give your loved one a hug’ and ‘hug somebody’.

Parents fraught during the summer holidays were given a lift after reading ‘don’t let the kids get you down’.

When Steve learned a woman recuperating from an operation used the Orcombe Point parking meters as walking milestones, he left her a personal message ‘little by little’ to reward her progress.

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