The Helping Hand installation by artist John Butler. I don’t know who to credit this photo to as it came via Facebook.

I came across a wonderful story about a leaning tree in Bideford, Devon in the United Kingdom.  The tree, a Horse chestnut, known locally as the Wonky Conker tree was almost a casualty of multiple tree removal for a car park, until it was saved by the community.

A few years later a staff member from Torridge District Council contacted artist John Butler to see if he could design something that could support the tree, which was leaning.   Mr Butler designed what he called ‘The Helping Hand’ – a metal prop covered to look like a log wrist with oak used to carve the hand & fingers.

Things got even better when a local woman, Mrs Mayhew, who read about the Council initiative in the media, decided to pay all costs if it could be a memorial to her late husband Samuel.  Of course all parties agreed & the initials S.T.M. & 1914-2000 were carved into the cuff.

The Helping Hand has been in place for 10-years & allows this old & very much loved tree to live on.  Personally, I think there are many wonderful things about this initiative.  Not only did the Torridge District Council take the time to save a perfectly healthy tree, but they also used the work of a local artist to do so, allowing his work to be seen in a public space.  The role of being a memorial is a nice touch & will please a lot of people.  The community benefitted by keeping the trees & not having to pay for the installation & a loved man had an impromptu memorial made to him.  This was a win/win every way you look at it & shows just what can be done if the time is taken to look for an alternative to chopping the tree down.

The article has a great photo. See – http://bidefordbuzz.org.uk/2012/09/wonky-conker/

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