Archive for November 3rd, 2011

Standing stones for life at Katherine’s Wood, Balsall Common

So now we have three Standing Stones in Katherine’s Wood:  unveiled on Saturday 22nd October by the Mayor of Solihull, Councillor Irene Chamberlain, Mrs Joyce Newitt (Katherine’s grandmother),President Len Cardwell of the Rotary Club of Meriden, and Katherine’s parents in the presence of about 25 members of the local community, friends and family.
To think that, five years ago, that middle field in Lavender Hall Park was just that…. a field, with a couple of paths crossing and a few formal trees.
 Now we have nearly four acres of growing woodland in the Park, approximately 2400 plants, trees and shrubs, daffodils waiting to spring up next March, and three Standing Stones dedicated to Life:  dedicated to Life’s Essentials, Health, Happiness and Harmony.
Katherine’s Grandparents, Dennis and Joyce Newitt, both proudly in their nineties, wanted to provide something in the Park as a reminder of her:  the family and Meriden Rotary Club thought that Standing Stones would create interest and a focal point for the Park.  This is the final stage of the woodland project in the Park, carried out by Katherine’s family, the Rotary Club of Meriden and Solihull Council to give the Park life, interest and colour, a Park for all seasons.
Five and a half years ago, a very pretty and talented young lady, Katherine, was lost to us all at the young age of 25. She was a trainee journalist and had already written a number of articles, including some for the Guardian, Birmingham Post, as well as publishing herself an anthology of poetry “Weight of Words” (using her pen-name Emma Fulham) written by sufferers of Eating Disorders.  Katherine loved woodlands and she commented to her father on the need for more trees in the Park.
Funds were raised by friends and family, which put in place the first phase of planting of the woodland. Two “Breathing Place” Lottery Grants were obtained by the Meriden Rotary Club, giving us another phase,  more signage and what is in effect a continuous wildlife corridor across the Park. This all led to the establishment of the Park as a Local Nature Reserve, officially opened by Chris Packham in 2008;  then came Green Flag status in 2009.  Daffodils belts were planted last Autumn, giving us a beautiful yellow display this Spring.  One smaller feature of the woodland  is a bird feeding station:  some further work is planned to this and support in its maintenance would be welcomed from the community and schools.
The Rotary Club of Meriden and family were very actively supported and helped in the woodland project by officers of Solihull Council, who were praised by speakers for the excellent work they done.
Formed from natural plum slate from  Bethesda Quarry near Anglesey, each of the three main stones has an inscription, acorns and one of the three “H”‘s.   A fourth stone explains all.
“Life’s Essentials
A gift of standing stones from Joyce and Dennis Newitt, in memory of their granddaughter Katherine Courts.   Each stone  bears a wish for those who visit the wood of her name. Three acorns, symbols of the beauty of life.
Health, Happiness, Harmony
With time, how sturdy oak from simple acorn grow
Woodland flourish, fulfil this young one’s wish
Each bud and leaf a symbol of life to flow
Pray three life qualities each human heart embrace.
With the kind support of the Rotary Club of Meriden and Solihull Metropolitan Council.”
As was said at the unveiling, this project started out of a tragedy, but now looks forward to life ahead. Let us hope the woodland will be a lasting benefit to the local community, as well as a woodland of which the young lady should be proud.
October 2011
The group photo shows, left to right:    Mrs Joyce Newitt (Katherine’s granddaughter), Cllr Irene Chamberlain, the Mayor of Solihull, Len Cardwell (President, Meriden Rotary Club), Ian & Sheila Courts (also Rotarians) and Robert Chamberlain, the Mayor’s son and official escort. There is also a photo above of Katherine with her fine cat, Jeff, who died a few hours after Katherine.