Belper’s annual Woollen Woods event is commemorating the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingales birthday with her own tree.
Florence had connections to the historic town since she was brought up in Derbyshire and had family in Cromford. She died 120 years ago at the age of 90, and due to her selfless and heroic career as a nurse in the Crimean war, remains an iconic historical figure to this day.
Her tree will be decorated with woollen bandages, lanterns and other medical symbols which can be associated with the heroin.
The Woollen Woods takes place every year in the Belper Park Local Nature Reserve and this year, the community arts event is on the 16th – 25th May.
Kim Kerry, who helps knit decorations and helps organise the event says: “We like to link the Woollen woods to the historical side of Belper so people can be educated themselves as well as be intrigued by the amazing creations.
“So when it comes to doing the Florence Nightingale Tree, we like to make sure all the historical references are 100% accurate so we can commemorate her in the right way.
“Last summer, as Woollen Woods preparations began, a group of us felt that they would like to celebrate the bicentenary of Florence Nightingale whom we consider to be an iconic female trailblazer with connections to the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site.”
Anne Clark, organiser of the event, says: “We decided to start up the event as part of the Belper Arts Festival to appreciate the local community and to get people into the woods.
“We encourage people to decorate the trees with woollen creations and events like this get everyone involved, no matter the age.
“It draws in people from all around the country as its quite a unique event and there’s such a big opportunity for great photos.”
Charities, Churches and even care homes are able to join in with the creative fun, by choosing their own tree to decorate.
We will be taking part in the upcoming Woolen Woods event in Belper in May. Our tree will focus on bees and beehives, we've even attached a pattern for you! Are you interested in becoming one of our knitters? Let us know by emailing [email protected] 💚🐝 pic.twitter.com/rwALrrSfSB
— Derbyshire Wildlife Trust (@DerbysWildlife) March 9, 2020
The event also helps those who have gone through hard times as it can become a focus for them.
Jeanette Jackson, who started knitting after 30 years whilst her husband became terminally ill, is helping create the Florence Nightingale tree.
She says: “Being a part of the Woollen Woods gave me a lifeline – I wasn’t able to leave the house whilst I was looking after my husband so it gave me a focus and made me feel as though I was still a part of the wider community.
“A nurse suggested I should take up knitting as it helps with your own well being so I decided to knit animals in Noahs Ark and used these for my first Woollen Woods.
“Groups like this are fantastic, they’re so inclusive and really helped me through a hard time – if I didn’t have the focus I don’t know how I would’ve been. I have amazing memories of pushing my husband through the woods, showing him my creations and enjoying the moment with him.
“Memories like that will never leave me.”
This year, Jeanette is helping decorate the tree for Florence, by creating a knit and craft portrait of the inspiring nurse with felt and wool.
If you want to get involved, the Woollen Woods can be contacted via facebook