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Haslingfield is a village of about 1,600 people, five miles south-west of Cambridge. Today it has a primary school, two churches, two shops and a pub. The village sign depicts a visit made to Haslingfield by Queen Elizabeth I in 1570 when she came to stay at the manor.
One of Haslingfield’s celebrations to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012 was a tea party for the Luncheon Club, set up to cook lunch, once a month, for older residents. Before the tea party, one of the committee, Christine Kipping, arranged for everyone’s recollections of the Coronation to be recorded and published in a booklet.
It was these Coronation Memories which inspired the planning of a planting event for Haslingfield’s Jubilee Diamond Tree. The planting could be a wonderful opportunity for the older generation to share with local children their memories of the Coronation, and life 60 years ago.
Haslingfield Endowed Primary School greeted the suggestion enthusiastically. Headteacher Mr Graeme McLeod proposed that the School Council – two children representing each of the six classes – should be involved, and that they could tell their classes all about it. The children were given extracts of the Coronation Memories and, with the help of teaching assistant Ellie Houghton, they prepared questions for the Luncheon Club members.
A wonderful session resulted. Fuelled by chocolate cake, the children were fascinated by how different life was within living memory (“You didn’t have a television?”), and the older generation enjoyed sharing their recollections.
After heavy rain the night before, the morning of the tree planting started grey, cool, and overcast. But as everyone gathered in the Wellhouse Meadow, the sun broke through the clouds. The only sadness on the day was that Tree Warden Sam Bowden was unable to be there. However Tom Nash, a landscape gardener living in the village, had very kindly prepared the planting site by removing the large stump of elder and digging a hole in the local heavy clay soil.
Mrs Margaret Long was asked to officially plant the tree, in recognition of the 36 years which she had served as a parish councillor until May 2012. Whilst this falls short of Her Majesty’s 60 years of service, it is still a remarkable contribution.
Mrs Long played an important part in helping to establish the village Warden Scheme which helps care for older residents. It was one of the first such schemes in the country. She was also a member of the parish council when it took action to save the Wellhouse Meadow for the village.
Assisting her with the planting were the two youngest members of the School Council, Hannah Farrell and Joseph Tudor, representing a new generation of villagers.
The tree is an English oak which we hope, in time, will create an impressive focal point for the Meadow. We hope that in another 60 years today’s pupils will be able to bring their grandchildren to the Wellhouse Meadow, to show them the Diamond Jubilee oak and tell them about the day it was planted.
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