Festive Tunes To Fund New Trees For Shaftesbury

Trees can play an important role in addressing the climate emergency. A ten-year-old tree can absorb up to 22kg of carbon dioxide each year. Next week, a Christmas concert will raise cash for more trees for Shaftesbury.

“Gathering pace at the moment, there’s a project for Shaftesbury tree planting,” explained Bimport resident and environmental campaigner Karen Wimhurst. Karen is an active member of Planet Shaftesbury. She uses her professional musician skills in a separate voluntary role as conductor of Palida, the choir performing at Tuesday’s Shaftesbury Tree Group fundraiser.

“They have been talking to the schools and the managers of those grounds to look at where trees can be planted. The schools are really excited about it as are the Tree Group,” Karen said.

Karen Wimhurst

Shaftesbury Town Council declared a climate emergency in July and as tree planting is widely accepted as a mitigating measure, local environmentalists want action. Councillors are likely to debate and vote on whether to accept an overarching tree planting strategy for the town in either January or February.

“If, for some bizarre reason, the council felt this was not for them this project will still be happening,” said Karen. “The schools are really on board. We’ve decided whether trees could go in at Shaftesbury Primary and Shaftesbury Upper School. The Abbey School have already planted hedges and I’m sure people would be ‘up for it’ in their gardens. I’m hopeful it will go across all of Shaftesbury.”

Karen hopes the event will raise money to fund specific items. “We need to raise money for stakes and the trees. The Tree Group hopes to be in a position to give out trees to people in Shaftesbury who want them. We are, hopefully, looking at a five-year plan starting next year.”

It had been suggested that a tree should be planted for every Shaftesbury resident, which could require around 8,000 specimens. That number was considered a tall order by some and a suggested alternative figure of 2,000 trees, broadly representing each child, was proposed as an alternative.

Karen says the Tree Group has begun, ‘a vast undertaking’ to work out how many are required. “People are walking around town looking at all the different areas. They are discussing how many trees need to be planted and where they need planting with Robin Walter. He is a tree expert,” she said.

Tuesday’s concert, ‘Roses, Berries And All That Is Green’, celebrates our countryside setting. “It’s a collaboration between Palida Choir, the Shaftesbury Ukulele Band and the Shaftesbury Tree Group,” said Karen. “The first half is going to be a few Christmas songs. Palida has been working on a few special numbers. They’ll be interleaved with poems from the Tree Group which have a winter basis. The second half, with the Shaftesbury Ukulele Band, will be a bit of a sing-along.”

The Palida Choir

Karen says some of the tracks performed by the Ukulele Band will be familiar Christmas songs, including ‘Ding Dong Merrily On High’, and ‘Mary’s Boy Child’. Karen has also picked some less familiar pieces to introduce to the audience. “’Jesus Christ The Apple Tree’ and ‘There Is No Rose’ by John Joubert – they’ve been chosen because they are themed around the idea of greenery, holly, berries, trees and the outdoors,” explained Karen.

There’s one festive song that you might expect at a fundraiser for the ‘2020 Great Christmas Tree Planting’ initiative. Karen says Palida will present a different arrangement of ‘O Christmas Tree’. “We are doing it in German. We will be handing out the words for that one,” Karen laughed. “It is a German carol and all the translations are rubbish. None of them sounds that great, so we thought we’d do it in German because it sounds good. Then we’ll go into our English version.”

Although there are no German members of the choir, some of the group can speak the language and Karen doesn’t expect any international incidents because of mispronunciation. “It’s going to be a really nice event with some unusual songs. Some you can just join in with. There will be mulled wine. It’s Christmas with a bit of a difference.”

Karen says she has to strike a balance between songs that people hear all the time and new tracks, which add some interest. “If you’re a choir leader, carolling starts on 1st December and that means you’ve been learning them throughout all of November. You’ve done it quite a few times. It’s nice to learn some other stuff,” she said.

And whilst many of the songs will be well known, Karen is excited to offer a new arrangement of ‘Jingle Bells’. “It’s a King’s Singers version, which is quite jazzy and has lots of different time signatures on it, so it’s a fun rendition of that.”

The concert takes place at the Town Hall next Tuesday, 17th December, at 8pm. “Entrance is free, but we hope you’ll donate a bit of money for the cause,” Karen told ThisIsAlfred.