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Life Chez Dee Episode #39: Trees for Edward

I wanted to write about trees. I could go on and on about trees and how special they are, but today I wanted to write about some really special trees … Trees #forEdward.

Trees for Edward was born in 2018. It all started at the Post Office in St Annes, me chatting to Jan, Jan wanting to help the charity in so many ways. Jan knows many, many people, as you can well imagine, and before long she’s told all those many people about The Edward Dee Fund. One of the shop owners she told was Linda who owned Bonney Fabric’s, and after hearing about the charity she told Jan she wanted to get involved too. I popped in to see Linda Deacon in her shop and from that meeting the concept of Trees #forEdward was borne.

Linda’s lovely little shop sells wool, fabric and other haberdashery, and she wanted to help the charity by getting as many in the community as possible, not only working together on a community project, but also spread the important messages that the charity works so hard to convey to people.

We decided that we could get people involved knitting, sewing and crocheting trees … which we could give out in the community as a random act of kindness, but also more importantly to raise awareness of meningitis and sepsis and the work of the charity. We decided that Trees were the right thing to knit … they were the right thing which fitted with Edward. Edward loved trees. He loved everything about them … climbing them, whittling them, he loved making things out of wood, he loved being in woods; he loved the outdoors, backwoods, fire.

Giving the trees out in the community in December was both important, and incredibly poignant, since Edward died on 5th December, and the last thing we did together as a family was decorate the family Christmas tree. Everything about the relevance and meaning of the story behind Trees for Edward was right.

The first year we set about this project, the response was overwhelming. So many people joined in … individuals, groups of knitters, other wool shops … both in our local community and from all over the country. Approximately 1500 trees were made, and distributed far and wide, left around on doors and gates, school railings, and on trees in the town centre; all raising awareness and spreading the word #forEdward.

A tree was put into the Winter Gardens Tree Festival, and again at St Annes Parish Church (kindly sponsored by Brick and Click Club, St Annes and Justin Baily, Bill Plant Driving School Blackpool respectively); both trees adorned with these beautiful handmade trees. The trees were stunning, and the story behind the trees was even more beautiful; you could feel the love oozing out from the trees when you stood before them.

People heard about the trees, excitedly looked for the trees, even more excitedly found them, and it was lovely to see pictures that people sent in, with their own story of where they found them, and how the tree will be kept and loved and remembered by them.

The year has gone by so fast and the Trees for Edward project is in full swing again this year. And we’ve gone even bigger, more than doubling last year’s figure of total trees made … Edward has a forest of trees this year. I never cease to be amazed, and incredibly touched, when I see all the different beautiful trees lovingly made by so many. So many types of tree … sewn, crocheted, knitted, all sizes, thicknesses, colours; some sparkly, some adorned with buttons, sequins, ribbons, bows, even bells. So many ages and abilities of people joining in, some making just one or two …. some hitting four figures! And it doesn’t matter how many people have done, it may take someone the same effort to make one, as it does for someone to make 100, the point is that anyone and everyone can join in, all coming together, being part of a community, learning about the charity, learning about Edward, and being a part of something very special.

It is at this point that I do want to give a big shout out to Linda, who has not only coordinated this project, but has personally made about 600 trees. She’s now suffering with repetitive strain from the amount of crocheting she’s done for Edward! So she’s already told me that she’s starting making next year’s Trees for Edward in January so she can pace herself! The second shout out I’m doing at this stage is again for Jan at the Post Office on St Albans Avenue. Not only did she support, and talk well about the charity, but she has also personally made 1000 trees for Edward which is just phenomenal. And I can’t let this opportunity to by without giving her another thank you for all the help she gives me in counting money … a very time consuming task, which she helps me with so often.

Anyway, back to the trees. Yesterday I went to the Winter Gardens again, and yet again this year I was helped by Shannon to decorate the tree. This year we’ve done things a little differently; we have said that we’d like people to take one of the handmade trees which adorns this beautiful tree. All we ask in return is that you take time to read the story, to look at the website and the work of the charity, that they make themselves aware of meningitis and sepsis, and if they could please talk about their tree to someone else that would be even better, thus raising awareness even further.

The tree has hundreds of these handmade trees hanging there, but by the end of the weekend, at the end of the Tree Festival, I expect, and hope there will be no trees left hanging there. I hope that all the trees are taken by people, who will read the story, and learn about Edward and the charity, we will raise awareness and spread the word; each and every little tree out and about doing exactly what it is supposed to do.

I knew that as the tree would end up being bare, that the tree itself needed to look stunning. I mentioned my idea to James at Hadfields DIY shop in St Annes, who is always incredibly supportive of the charity. I knew it would be difficult for me to get a large real tree so early in the season, being mid November, but not only did James agree to get me a beautiful tree for the Winter Gardens Festival, but he also made a special journey over to Chorley to pick up the tree … just my tree I might add. He went a week earlier to get this so that he could keep it in the shop to allow the branches to settle and look beautiful for its big day. He then told me that the shop would sponsor the tree, therefore not costing the charity a penny, and he would deliver it to the Winter Gardens for me too.

If that weren’t enough, James and Heather at Hadfields, have agreed for a second year running, that in return for a donation #forEdward, they will deliver any tree purchased in their shop. It is such a kind gesture, and one which was incredibly well received and supported last year by so, so many, and I hope will be so again this year. Anyone who purchases a tree from Hadfields, will also be given one of the little handmade trees #forEdward which we are giving out in the community.

For The Edward Dee Fund, a local charity, to have the support of local businesses, all working together is heartwarming, and exactly what community spirit is all about, and indeed what the spirit of Christmas is all about.

The Carlton Hotel in St Annes, who are also supporting the charity enormously, have said that they will give out one of the little handmade trees to all guests who stay with them this December, enabling the charity to reach out to all those who stay with them, who are not local to here. And for those who don’t know, please pop into The Carlton Hotel if you’re out for a stroll on the Promenade near to the Splashpark. Go and treat yourself to a tub of the very delicious Frederick’s ice cream, as they have said that they will donate a massive 50% of the retail price #forEdward. That generosity will surely offset any guilt in eating ice cream! Calories don’t count when you’re eating for charity! ….. if only! Lol x

December is almost upon us, and therefore that means that the yarn bombing will take place again soon; so too will the tree in St Annes Parish Church be decorated, again being sponsored by Justin Bailey of Bill Plant Driving School, Blackpool.

This year, I’ve had to ask for a lot more help to step in and help decorate this tree, as I am unable to do this. I’m rather upset that I won’t be able to decorate the tree, but I know I can trust those who have agreed to do this for me. I have other more important things that I must attend to, not that this tree is unimportant, but I have to be with my youngest boy, who has to go in hospital for an operation that day. The date this is all to take place is 5th December, a difficult day for me anyway, as this will be the third anniversary of Edward’s death … but it’s rather special that the tree in the Parish Church will be decorated #forEdward then.

Hopefully, people will vote for the trees in both the Winter Gardens, and in St Annes Parish Church, but whatever the outcome, I know the trees are beautiful, they are full of love and they are very, very special.

I can’t wait to see all the pictures you send me again this year, of the little trees you find. I know the ladies who have made the trees love to hear that they have been found, that they are doing exactly what they were designed to do; and the trees, the story, and indeed the boy, Edward, are all treasured and loved.

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