CARLISLE’S best known eco-warrior has been viciously attacked as he was going about his daily mission of clearing litter from the city’s streets.

In recent years, 26-year-old Richard Foster has become a minor local celebrity, known for devoting his days to trudging miles so he can collect and clear away the unsightly rubbish that other people throw away

But on Saturday morning he was randomly attacked by a thug on a bike.

According to his father Robert, Richard was working early on Saturday morning in the Grey Street area, off London Road, when a young man who was riding past him on a bicycle struck him hard on the head.

“Richard did nothing and said nothing to provoke this,” said Robert. “Apparently, the police are now involved. Richard was shaken up by it but he just went back to doing his thing. He’s quite resilient.

“He’s not going to let something like this stop him doing what he wants to do.”

When news of the attack was circulated on the social media website Facebook, Richard’s supporters were outraged.

The comments included:

n “He walks our Carlisle streets clearing rubbish that’s thrown onto our pavements. He has a heart of gold and is harmless. At 7.30am [on Saturday] someone thought it would be an idea to set on Richard...the police were called but someone must know who has done this!” Helen Render.

n “I feel so sad and angry. I often see this lovely guy around picking up litter and often want to speak to him and say thank you. I’m sure most people feel the same but there will always be those plonkers who are just wrong and cruel.” I hope someone is looking after this poor guy and if someone has seen something please speak up. No one should go through this. Joanne Masterton-brown.

n “I’m disgusted. Carlisle people need to pull together and get the scum who do things like this stopped! Makes me so angry.” Mandi Leonard.

n “This is disgraceful. All that lad does is help by doing a job I don’t think he gets paid for, early morning till late at night.” Jordan May.

n “I don’t know the lad but I see him regularly and he warms my heart. How anyone could do this is so sad and infuriating. I hope they’re found.” Rachael Barker.

n “He’s such a lovely lad, why would anyone wanna do that?” Clair Ward.

n “Shocking. He’s a really is a nice person.” Mark Weatherill.

When the News & Star first told Richard’s story, he spoke of his long-standing interest in the environment and the natural world. “I just like to keep this place tidy,” he said.

Every day, between 5am and 6am, he leaves his Mayfield Avenue home in Harraby, Carlisle, and begins a seven-hour litter-picking shift, walking around 20 miles per day.

A Police spokeswoman said officers were called out at 8.28am on Saturday to a report of an assault in the Botchergate area. “A man was assaulted by another man at approximately 6.20am,” she said, adding that the victim suffered minor injuries.