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HERTS | BUCKS | BEDS

Help needed , please read…Woodland Weddings

April 15, 2017

So anyone that’s followed me for a while will know that I’m super positive and excited about everything local and independent. I was therefore absolutely devastated to hear of a local business that I love and admire being involved in a violent and malicious attack. Woodland Weddings, close to Hastoe and Wigginton was subject to an arson attack that has unfortunately destroyed the core of what they had created and has left them in a very difficult position within weeks of their busy wedding season starting, not to mention the devastating effect on the ecology of the ancient and beautiful woodland within which they reside.

Woodland Weddings in its former glory. Picture Marie Kent

The treehouse — completely destroyed by the attack. Photo by Lucy Noble

Of course I’ve been keen to do what I can to help these incredible people out who not only embody everything I love in a business (unique, interesting and determined) but have shown the most amazing resilience and pride in a situation of extreme adversity. I asked Faye the owner to send me some details of what she might need and her words were so touching, I simply want to repeat them to you.

The woodland devastated by the attack. Photo by Sharon Grufferty — Photobooth Trailer Company

“Sam and I have poured our hearts into making Lila’s Wood a space that Tring can be proud of. It has also been hugely time consuming and physical (to the detriment of our lives outside of work). Our objective upon starting up the business was to create a space that could be used by the community. We can only run 15 weddings per year at Hastoe due to TENS licencing surrounding events. We didn’t want the space to be abandoned and fruitless across the remaining 38 weeks of the year. The magical woods and fields can be used by Girl Guides and Scouts, Forest Schools, as well as other local groups for adults such as yoga and open air cinema. All of these used the woods during 2016. We also support local enterprise and use almost entirely local suppliers.

Lila’s Wood at dusk by Lucy Noble

Sam grew up in Wigginton and has a huge Tring family. I’m also from Tring. We receive up to 30 emails of interest in the space for both wedding and community projects per week. Our cause has been taken up by the local paper this week, and 3 counties radio. We have had over 100 individual offers of help as a result. We have only 2 weeks until the first wedding ceremony this year and as such we are hoping to take up as many of these offers as possible. We had a group clearing up the site yesterday which had made a huge difference already. We really want anything written to be wholly positive. I’m not interested in anger and malicious retribution. This will only eat away at me and be counter-productive. We want to move forward, Sam and I are resilient and positive.”

More devastation. Picture by Sharon Grufferty

So what do they need?

  1. Individuals who are happy to shovel wood chip. The ecology of the woodland floor has been damaged. We need to cover the charred woodland floor with fresh woodchip. NB: helpers really need to bring spades/rakes/wheel barrows/leaf blowers.
  2. Woodchip— any tree surgeons that can donate? Ideally by bank holiday Monday but if not, by Saturday 22nd.
  3. Knitters. There are some rather charred trees in the centre of the wood where the tree house used to stand. We have an arborist coming tomorrow to assess whether these can be saved. If so, we would like to cover the trunks in knitted ‘jumpers’. FYI trees don’t like to have their limbs exposed, and react badly to losing their bark.
  4. Donations of timber and cedar shingles in order to rebuild the structures.
  5. The next fortnight was due to be spent planting up the flower beds and generally making the place look cheery. If anybody can come with plants and plant up our banks and flower beds then this would really turn attention away from the charred trees. It would also make me very happy.
  6. Information surrounding the arson attack and the previous criminal damage. Also information on those members of the public who have been inciting hatred over the past year.
  7. Natural stone — our track into the woods has been damaged by heavy vehicles.

Faye and the team would like to make a special mention with regards to how wonderful the Police and Fire services have been. The Police are also taking the matter extremely seriously and have been entirely diligent in their investigation. They would also like to thank the Baron landowner of Wick Farm for his continued support and his ‘don’t give up!’ mentality.

What happened:

  1. The site was first vandalised between Sunday night and Wednesday morning. The fence was cut, as were the power points and lighting. The local police, and forensic investigation services attended on Wednesday afternoon. The site was re-secured at 6pm.
  2. On Wednesday night at around 9pm the fire services and police attended the site. The forest fire was reported by cyclists. We received a phone call at 10:45. The fire took 3 hours to bring under control and was hugely dangerous. The main structure was burnt to the ground and the trees and ecology of the site were damaged. The police believe that this is premeditated arson and have employed the services of their fire investigation services, Herts detectives, dog handlers, and heat censoring. They have also installed CCTV, and increased their patrols. They will be conducting door to door enquiries.
  3. A member of woodland weddings staff was due to be sleeping in the structure on Wednesday night (due to the malicious vandalism that had already been discovered that day). Luckily he was off site at point the fire was started. Our young family camp in the woods and were doing so this time last year.

“We are so grateful to be part of a prosperous rural economy. Every day when I turn on the radio I feel lucky to live in such a wonderful place, and to be part of the Tring community. Bianca, Luke, Sam, Sam and I are all likeminded individuals in this respect. We hope that a sense of community will prevail and that the legacy of our small tragedy will be of people coming together. #tringtogether!”

More devastation. Picture by Sharon Grufferty

Please join with me in offering Woodlands Weddings all the support they need and deserve, in agreement of the fantastic area and business they had created and how devastating it is that someone should try to take this away from us but also by offering what you can in terms of their of required resources.

If you have anything to offer please contact me here or Faye at faye@woodland-weddings.com

http://woodland-weddings.com

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