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New Buckenham climate group continues its quest for a greener future

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Villagers have been stepping up their efforts to plant more trees – one year on from a 95-year-old’s actions sparking the formation of a group to tackle climate change.

Climate Action Now was founded in New Buckenham after pensioner Violet Highton, of Rosemary Lane, used the pages of the parish magazine to voice her fears about the future of our world and its climate.

In recent weeks, the group has accelerated its efforts, planting 12 new trees, with each adoptee receiving a special pack with a plaque to put on the tree, guidance about how to plant it and look after it and identification guides.

Harry, Annabelle, Jonathan and Mandy Hartley with the tree that they planted on the common in New Buckenham..Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography.
Harry, Annabelle, Jonathan and Mandy Hartley with the tree that they planted on the common in New Buckenham..Picture: Mark Bullimore Photography.

Dr Mandy Hartley, 46, who planted a tree on Saturday with her family, said: “Our team has been joined by Phil Anderson, a tree specialist who lives in the village.

“He has very kindly helped and contributed to the purchase of the trees for us, dug the holes and provided the mulch and stakes for free.

“His son also filmed a video to give villagers advice on how to plant and care for the trees. His contribution has been invaluable.”

Dr Hartley, of Church Street, added: “Our next plan is to secure funding for more trees to be planted around the village, for the children in the village to decorate butterfly boxes for the playground and to have more bird, bat and animal homes and feeders to encourage wildlife.

“In addition, we are looking to find out who owns the pond behind the cricket pavilion so that we can bring it back to life for the villagers to enjoy and to establish it as a wildlife haven.

“Covid-19 restrictions have made things tricky for us in recent months, but they haven’t got in the way of us planting the trees.”

The cox apple tree planted last week by Dr Hartley, husband Jonathan, 46, and children Harry, 10, and Annabelle, 13, was placed in memory of Jonathan’s late father, Alan, who died in June.

“Alan farmed orchards in Norfolk for many years, so we felt it would be a fitting tribute,” said Dr Hartley.

“There is a Bramley apple tree planted close by. The idea is that when people walk that way to pick their blackberries, they can pick the apples to complete their crumbles.”

Mrs Highton (pictured), who is now 96, was quick to praise others who have helped build the movement over the last year.

She said: “The articles I wrote in our parish magazine were inspired by both Sir David Attenborough’s tipping point speech and Greta Thunberg saying that her future had been stolen.

“It was not me but the dedication and passion of Jan Prior, who has sadly since died, that started and drove on the tree planting in the first place, and I’ve been more of a mascot due to being so old.

“But, the tree planting continues thanks to a very active group of residents and long may it do so.”

One year on from Mrs Highton first sharing her thoughts with the community, residents of New Buckenham are working to build a greener village, and a brighter future for everyone who lives there, handing down responsibility for the care of trees, wildlife havens, butterfly boxes and much more, to children, neighbours and loved ones.

“I won’t be around to see what happens in the end, but my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will see the results,” added Mrs Highton.

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