By Hollie Bone
A kind-hearted window cleaner who uses his spare time to tidy up filthy road signs in his home town claims he started the trend currently sweeping the nation – two years ago.
Steve Matthews, 36, has been rejuvenating road, direction and traffic signal signs around Holyhead, North Wales, hose pipe and brush and believes he was the first to share his gesture online.
In the last few months, an army of community-minded guerrilla cleaners have followed suit, polishing dirt and grime from the public signs and sharing their before and after transformations on social media.
But since Steve began his mission in summer 2016, the dad-of-four has become addicted to spotting and sorting the signs in his spare time between jobs to tidy up the town and make life easier for drivers.
And with all 60 signs around Holyhead now exhausted and sparkling clean, he has taken to giving bus stops the once over too – and even takes requests from residents as far as 30 miles away.
Good-willed businessman Steve said: “I started doing it about two years ago, and I posted pictures on my Facebook page.
“I was the first to do it and since then it’s just taken off.
“I’ve just become addicted really, I can’t pass a filthy sign without stopping to sort it out and when I run out I end up looking for other things to clean like bus stops.
“It only takes a few minutes but it makes such a difference and the feedback we get is incredible, people really appreciate it.”
Steve started out as a window cleaner in 1993 with his dad after his parents moved from Birmingham to Holyhead, taking over the business, Clear View Contract Cleaning, after his dad suffered a heart attack in 2004.
But he turned his attention to road signs by chance when he spotted a happy birthday message marred by a filthy sign behind it.
Steve said: “I was driving from another local little village and there was a ‘happy birthday’ sign which had been really well done but there was a horrible dirty road sign by it, so I thought ‘I’m going to stop and clean that’.
“After I posted the before and after pictures, people started telling me where there were other dirty signs and asked me if I could go out to sort those.
“Now people are constantly flagging them us up to us even from as far as 30 miles away in Bangor.
“We’re really well known in the town as a business anyway but people have started to beep their horns as they go past me while I’m doing it, just to say hello – which is really rewarding.”
Steve says that while the signs keep getting dirty, he will continue to act as a guardian of the town, keeping them all in top condition.
Each of the 60 signs in the vicinity of the town takes him just 60 seconds to clean.
Although it is usually the responsibility of the local highways authority to clean road signs, Anglesey County Council has agreed to let Steve carry on his gesture as long as he keeps himself safe.
Steve said: “Just the other day I went back and cleaned a sign that I did two years ago.
“They carry on getting dirty with algae and road grime, so as long as they’re dirty I’ll keep doing them.”