Remembering, Goodwill and Growth for Africa

PUBLISHED: 10:30 13 January 2014 | UPDATED: 15:33 13 January 2014

Remembering Tree

Remembering Tree

Archant

Jessica Roberts reflects on the showstopping Remembering Tree in Stratford-upon-Avon that has been raising money for less fortunate African children

Remembering TreeRemembering Tree

The Remembering Tree certainly got people talking in and around Stratford-upon-Avon during the festive period didn’t it? I hope you were lucky enough to see this eye-catching creation in all its glory. It was impossible to miss. The large yarn bombed tree was given pride of place, and rightfully so, in the Bancroft Gardens from December 1st 2013 until the second week of January 2014.

One well-rooted tree, just a stone’s throw from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in fact, was well and truly yarn bombed! Magically adorned with 1,500 colourful crocheted squares, each and every one beautifully different. The project was in aid of GAGAUK (Goodwill and Growth for Africa UK), dedicated to helping children and communities affected by HIV-AIDs, poverty and violence in Africa. A charity based in Bidford-on-Avon. The process is called ‘yarn-bombing’ and the squares were individually crocheted by women in South Africa, from poor backgrounds. The women receive income for their eye-catching work and also learn new skills. The squares are made from synthetic wool which is friendly to both the tree and the surrounding environment, the wool being recycled into blankets once the yarn squares are taken down.

The Remembering Tree gave everybody the opportunity to donate to a charity, celebrate a loved one and to help children in Africa, all at the same time. What wonderful gifts inspired by such a simple idea. For each £5 donated, one crocheted square was yours to celebrate, remember or show someone special that you love them. The donations flooded in so this resulted in a pretty well covered tree! Each name was placed on a board next to the tree and the full list of those names was printed in the Stratford Herald in the week before Christmas. The names were also displayed on a board next to the tree itself. The total raised is in the region of £5,130. An amazing amount!

I first found out about ‘The Remembering Tree’ back in October and was really excited about it. It was a fresh, deliciously different and fun idea which appealed to so many people. The location of the tree was a closely guarded secret right up until the morning of the 1st December. This added to the shock and awe value and really got residents and visitors hooked! It’s not often that an idea sparks off so much excitement and curiosity. The very young were excited about a ‘magic’ tree and I know many schools and businesses across the town supported The Remembering Tree and couldn’t wait to see it. So, age was no barrier. Six, sixty or one hundred and six….it really didn’t matter because everybody could be involved.

So, did Stratford-upon-Avon see the biggest ever yarn bombed tree in the UK? I’m afraid I don’t know the answer yet but I will endeavour to find out. What I do know is that The Remembering Tree now has a place in the hearts of many people forever. It was only this week that my six year old daughter built her ‘Remembering Tree’ out of lego. It may be going soon but it certainly won’t be forgotten. What a fabulous way to wave goodbye to the old year and to welcome the next, by celebrating life in all its colours.

Jessica Smallwood

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