The Inspiration Behind My Book Adoette… By Lydia Monks
I wrote Adoette during the Sheffield tree campaign, which I’d got involved with when I found out that the huge ash tree outside my daughter’s school was due to be cut down. The children would play around the tree after school, and it had obviously stood there long before the school was built. It seemed a real shame, and I presumed the tree was diseased, but was shocked to find that there was nothing wrong with the tree. It, along with thousands of other healthy trees, were being removed so that the roads and pavements could be repaired. Most of these trees were planted by the Victorians, and Sheffield’s suburbs were known for their leafy tree-lined avenues, and it was reported to be the ‘greenest city in Europe’.
I started a petition to save the ash tree, and joined many others in trying to raise awareness of what was going on in the city. Thousands of street trees were being cut down needlessly, just when we’d realised how important trees are for the health of a city. The more trees that were felled, the more people came out to protest. There were marches, and fundraising events, and campaign reached the national news when Nick Clegg, Jarvis Cocker and Chris Packham spoke out against the fellings.
I was particularly struck by how emotional people became when the trees on their street were targeted. The trees were given names, and were loved. When the they couldn’t be saved, people cried and grieved, like they’d lost a friend. I also noticed how the fight brought everyone together. People of all ages and classes. Out of such a hopeless situation, where the battle seemed too huge, people gained strength and support.
I’d watch another tree come down and then come home and draw a bit more of the story of Adoette. It was not a book I thought would be published, really. I just felt I had to try to express what I was seeing all around me. This is a story that is repeated too often in towns and cities everywhere.
After years of campaigning and court cases, the felling stopped, and they say that lessons have been learned. Happily, the ash tree is still standing outside the school, and recently featured in the news as it has a resident owl who can be seen during the day, watching the children come and go. I like to think that the tree is watching too.
– Lydia Monks