And so it was, that, on October 23rd at 8am on a day of sunshine and showers, 21 intrepid cyclists from across the country embarked on Fund 4 Trees’ second Ride for Research charity event of the year, heading along the Thames Path from Kew Gardens to Westminster and back, a total of 29 miles in all.
Tony Kirkham, of Kew, was enlisted to fire the starter’s gun, and the riders made their way along the muddy scenic towpaths of Kew and Richmond through Hammersmith, Fulham, Lambeth and Wandsworth, to the Houses of Parliament.
Along the route two schools were to be visited and some of the pupils were in for a tree planting and arboriculture lesson. St Pauls Primary was the first. Russell Ball led the pupils out to the spot where a sweet gum tree was to be planted and gave a short lesson to the throng of fascinated faces, (the ‘arbs’ of the future perhaps?) Russell asked the question:-
‘Children, how many trees do you think there are in London?’
To which the reply came
‘One hundred? No, ten hundred. No, five hundred?’ Until one voice ventured the best answer to be heard all day,
Well, the arboriculturists of the present were in no mood to let the pace drop and hurtled away from the first school en route to an important and time-sensitive appointment looming on the horizon. Completely out of character with some of the group, the riders stopped commenting on the state of the street trees (and the fact that one of their group may have failed a ‘caffeine test’ due to the rumoured wearing of a cycling accessory, which put the wind up more than one of our hardy bunch) and concentrated their thoughts instead on arriving at the second school St Faiths Primary on time where the Deputy Mayoress of Wandsworth would plant a cherry tree with the children. It was time for the second crocodile of the day to venture forward, as the older children led the young ones out into the playground.
Russell, sticking with his well prepared script, asked the children again how many trees they thought there were in London, and, to his mild astonishment, found that the answer was the same:-
‘INFINITY!!!!’ came the reply!
The be-chained Deputy Mayoress then broke the ground with her official spade, and everybody cheered. The tree officers Gavin Simmons (Hammersmith & Fulham), and Patrick Langley (Wandsworth) made sure that all procedures went well and the cycling convoy wound its way to lunch at Battersea Park, and then off to the Houses of Parliament for a talk on assessment of heritage trees by Mark Wadey.
Negotiating the precarious roads around Parliament Square, and with the necessary photos taken for perpetuity, our intrepid group finished the course and went straight to the pub; a pint on a sunny Kew Green.
Which surprised nobody.
By the way there are approximately 6.5 million trees in London, some say 8 million whilst others just say infinity!
The next Ride will coincide with the ICF Trees, People & the Built Environment II conference on 1st April 2014.
Written by Sharon Hosegood
Riders: Russell Ball; Richard Barnes; Mick Boddy; David Challice; Tracy Clarke; Mike Connick; Dermot Cox; Ollie Coyne; Rebecca Farrar; Martin Gammie; Sharon Hosegood; Alvan Kingston; Karen Martin; Jonathan Mills; Tim Moya; Chris Rea; Jon Ryan; Oliver Stutter; Tom Thompson; Graham Underhill; Mark Wadey & Peter Wharton.
Thanks to Gavin Simmons (Tree Officer: Hammersmith & Fulham) and Patrick Langley (Tree Officer: Wandsworth) for organising tree planting with their contractors Advanced Tree Services and Ginkgo Landscapes. Also thanks to Karen Nolan for preparing the delicious packed-lunches.
Last but not least, many thanks to the event sponsors; Capita, City Suburban Tree Surgeons (T-shirts and lunches) and especially to Barcham Trees for the supply of the trees.