Welcome to Our ‘New’ Willow

It’s now ten months since ‘Storm Ciara’ battered Ruddington from the early hours of one Sunday morning (9th February 2020) with gusts of up to 60mph during the day – accompanied by a period of torrential rain – causing structural damage to village properties and felling or breaking several of our large trees.

Among those residents devastated to see that one of these casualties was the much loved old Willow on The Green were Austin and Anne Shaw. A subsequent assessment on behalf of Ruddington Parish Council (RPC) discovered the ageing tree had become quite badly diseased, and prompted the difficult decision to remove the well known village landmark altogether. However, as RUDDINGTON.info has previously reported, before the condemned Willow was taken out and disposed of, quick thinking Ruddington resident Austin Shaw (pictured below with his wife Anne) leapt into action!

After taking home samples of the old tree simply as memorabilia of many happy days on The Green, Mr Shaw found out Willow cuttings can be propagated quite readily. Within weeks there were over a dozen saplings sprouting in pots on the Shaws’ pathway – and the couple offered one of these back to the Parish Council for The Green, in gratitude for the delivery services of the Ruddington COVID-19 UK Mutual Aid Group. They were delighted to accept!

The broken Willow Tree on The Green – and the cutting from it which the Shaws propagated as its replacement

After nurturing it at home – until it was big enough to be placed at its new, permanent location just yards from where its ‘mum’ had stood for generations – Austin and Anne were on The Green today (Monday December 7th), alongside others involved in achieving this milestone, to witness the ceremonial planting of their now six foot tall replacement Willow.

Austin says: “I feel absolutely marvellous! Just out of a simple idea, sourcing information about cloning a tree, it was the perfect time to cut branches off our storm-blown Willow. And here we are today! I’m absolutely delighted for the village – a sign of hope for the future.”

Founder member of the Ruddington COVID-19 UK Mutual Aid Group Jennifer Walker, who is also one of Ruddington’s Borough Councillors, was asked to shovel the first soil around the newly planted tree. She says: “I just want to give a big thanks to everyone who’s done something towards this – especially to the Shaws for making sure this has happened. It was a stroke of genius to get a cutting from the old tree.” 

Cllr Walker was observed at a ‘social distance’ (top photo L to R) by Ruddington Parish Council Clerk Claire Dorans, RPC Groundsmen Kieran Brookes and Scott Evans, plus, of course, Anne and Austin Shaw.

In fact, Kieran was given most of the tree planting responsibility today as a new apprentice to RPC’s Head Groundsman Scott: “My dad Steve was born in Ruddington and can remember the tree from when he was a young lad” explains Kieran. “For me to plant an off-cut from the original tree, through my horticulture course at Brooksby Melton College, is quite a nice thing to do for the village.”

Parish Clerk Claire agrees: “As part of his apprenticeship, Kieran gets to leave at the end of his course with a qualification in Grounds Maintenance, as well as useful experience with the Parish Council. He gets experience on all our different machines in the different areas to complete his portfolio. This is one of the tasks he needed to do – so it’s very useful!”

It’s hoped this tree will eventually become just as big and strong as its predecessor (below) to provide both a new focal point on The Green and valuable shelter for future Ruddingtonians to enjoy.

The old Willow tree provided shade for generations.

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