When the dying ash tree in front of their house needed felling, Chaldon residents Michael and Maxine Heyburn didn’t want it to simply disappear.
“The tree had been part of Chaldon Common Road for many years so we wanted to preserve it rather than removing it completely.”
In November, Surrey-based chainsaw carver Ella Fielding transformed the remaining stump, adding two hand-carved wooden owls on top:
“Michael and Maxine asked me to bring new life to the tree. I love that I get to create and make people smile. We all need that at the moment!”
Michael then added a fairy house and garden – complete with forest, toadstools and stepping stones – to its base.
The stump sits in their garden hedge and the entire scene, which was also illuminated over Christmas, is visible to all passers-by.
Michael says it attracted attention as soon as it was complete:
“Hundreds of people stop to look. Not just on foot but people in cars, who pull over to see it close up. There have been photos on social media too, so we’ve had visitors from outside Chaldon: families with children and residents from care homes. It brings joy to everybody when they spot it, which is lovely, especially during these difficult times.”
As well as raising spirits Michael and Maxine are also helping in another way. They placed a charity box and poster next to the display, explaining they are collecting for The Lily Foundation (www.thelilyfoundation.org.uk), a Warlingham charity which supports sufferers of mitochondrial disease, something their 2-year old granddaughter Lillyanna was diagnosed with in February 2020. As of 28 December, there have been donations totalling £985.
The couple are amazed by the amount:
“We would have been pleased to get £100, so this is phenomenal! We are so grateful.”
Their neighbour is also holding a raffle in aid of The Lily Foundation, with prizes from local businesses. Tickets – £5 per strip – can be purchased by posting an envelope with your money and contact details through the Heyburns’ letterbox. The draw will be held at the end of January.