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Faversham grandma creates 'tree of hope' outside home to spread cheer during pandemic


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A grandmother has spent the last year decorating a magnolia tree in her front garden to help lift people's spirits.

Linda Hilton from Faversham has hand-crafted hundreds of pom poms and other decorations to transform the tree - nicknamed 'the tree of hope' by admirers - for every event from Halloween to Christmas and Valentine's Day.

KMTV spoke to Linda about her project

The grandmother-of-six usually works at Faversham swimming pool, but has been on furlough since last Spring.

Determined to keep herself busy during the down-time and to help spread some much-needed cheer, she first decided to decorate the tree outside her Bramblehill Road home with handmade decorations last Easter.

"We just did it for something to do," said Linda, 61.

But the colourful sight soon began attracting attention, and seeing the joy it brought to her grandchildren and passers-by, Linda decided to craft decorations for other events as they rolled around and the pandemic rumbled on.

Linda Hilton has decorated a magnolia tree outside her home. Picture: Vicky Hilton
Linda Hilton has decorated a magnolia tree outside her home. Picture: Vicky Hilton
The tree was dressed up for Valentine's Day at the weekend. Picture: Vicky Hilton
The tree was dressed up for Valentine's Day at the weekend. Picture: Vicky Hilton

For the 75th anniversary of VE Day last May, she and her family embellished the magnolia with red, white and blue decorations.

Linda's daughter, Vicky said: "We decorated it a bright coloured pom poms and rainbows for the NHS, then we moved on to Halloween, taking part in the Faversham Halloween trail.

"After this we went to Christmas which included home-made robins, Christmas puddings, stars, and Christmas trees made from lolly sticks. We had lights out there and took part in the Faversham alternative light switch on."

For Valentine's Day on Sunday, the family embellished the tree with hand-crafted hearts and flowers, and they have now begun preparing to decorate it for a second Easter.

"My mum's tree is the talk of the town," said Vicky. "So many people walk past and stop to take pictures and talk to my mum, who is always out the front tinkering with the tree.

"Whilst putting Valentine’s bits up a Tesco delivery driver beeped and waved and commented on the tree, and we’ve also had police stop and comment.

Halloween-themed decorations adorned the tree back in October. Picture: Vicky Hilton
Halloween-themed decorations adorned the tree back in October. Picture: Vicky Hilton
Linda and her family have hand-crafted hundreds of seasonal decorations over the last year. Picture: Vicky Hilton
Linda and her family have hand-crafted hundreds of seasonal decorations over the last year. Picture: Vicky Hilton

"Mum loves that this tree has been named 'the tree of hope', and that it cheers people up!"

Linda says she is delighted by the hugely positive response the tree has had.

"Every time you look out the window, there's someone out there looking at it, or taking a photo," she said.

"We've had so many people stop and say nice things. It's really lovely.

"The decorations get a bit of a battering in the wind and rain and snow, so I'm out two or three times a day untangling it and keeping it nice."

But Linda says she is determined to keep decorating the tree even after the pandemic ends.

"I will keep doing it, after the pandemic. When I go back to work I'll have less time, but I'll keep doing it for holidays like Halloween and Christmas.

"It's just something nice for the grandchildren to get involved with too."

Linda says she plans to keep decorating the tree, even once the pandemic is over. Picture: Vicky Hilton
Linda says she plans to keep decorating the tree, even once the pandemic is over. Picture: Vicky Hilton
Spooky Halloween decorations. Picture: Vicky Hilton
Spooky Halloween decorations. Picture: Vicky Hilton

Linda is not the only one to have used her spare time during the pandemic to help bring a smile to those around her.

Engineer Dale Dempsey recently built a model of Sheppey's Kingsferry Bridge out of two carrot slicers and installed it in his pond, to remind him of the island while he is unable to visit due to lockdown rules.

Back at the start of the coronavirus outbreak, villagers in Boughton-under-Blean created an incredible “lockdown snake” comprising hundreds of pebbles decorated with vibrant paintings and messages of support, which has since been turned into a permanent memorial to the pandemic.

Last Easter, Dover entertainer John Beeks - AKA Johnny B - performed uplifting gigs outside his home which were streamed live online, where they racked up tens of thousands of views.

And a musical family from Faversham has gone viral for their topical, pandemic-themed versions of famous songs such as One Day from hit musical Les Misérables, and Bonnie's Tyler's Total Eclipse of the Heart.

Read more: All the latest news from Faversham

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