Saturday, 04 December 2021

Children's author gives pupils a hand with planting trees

Children's author gives pupils a hand with planting trees

CHILDREN’S author Nick Butterworth helped Henley schoolchildren plant more than 400 trees.

The 70-year-old creator of Percy the Park Keeper joined youngsters from the kindergarten and nursery at St Mary’s School in St Andrew’s Road in planting hazelnut, hawthorn, wild rose, elder and damson at Swiss Farm, off Marlow Road. His grandchildren, Harry, 10, and Thomas, seven, attend the school.

Mr Butterworth gave a talk to the whole school about his career. The theme was “from little acorns, mighty oaks grow” and looked at how literacy skills can help writers to develop their craft.

The younger children then accompanied him to Swiss Farm, where teachers had dug a row of holes. Each pupil was given a sapling and laid it in the ground before wrapping it in a plastic sheath to stop it being attacked by pests. Children in the other year groups did the same later the same day.

The trees will mark a patch of land which was set aside for the school’s use by Swiss Farm owners Joseph and Erika Borlase, whose children, Olivia and Eleanor, attend St Mary’s.

Pupils will return on a regular basis to see their trees growing.

The planting was organised by teacher and activity club organiser Ruth Peters in partnership with the Woodland Trust, which provided the saplings, to mark the school’s 90th anniversary. They will be among the 64 million new trees — one for every person living in the UK – that the trust hopes to plant within a decade.

Mr Butterworth, whose son and daughter-in-law Ben and Jenny live in Belle Vue Road, wrote a story about the day and shared it with the children.

He said: “It’s great to see all the children taking part in this because these days so few youngsters have a chance to do anything with nature. They know very little about how food arrives on their plate and things like that.

“You can’t put a price on this kind of experience. It’s a lesson that really sinks in and they’ll be able to keep coming back year after year to see how their trees are doing.” Mrs Peters said: “Children really enjoy learning through first-hand experience and this is one way we can provide that while encouraging them to be healthy and active.”

Headteacher Rob Harmer said: “This is a wonderful way to celebrate our 90th birthday and it teaches the children a valuable lesson about the importance of sustainable planting and looking after the environment.

“You could see the joy and enthusiasm on their faces, both while planting and at Nick’s talk.”

Dee Smith, of the Woodland Trust, said: “In 10 or 20 years, this will be a lovely established hedgerow and eventually these children will be able to show it to their own children.”

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