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Dad creates 'dummy tree' in Walderslade Woods, Chatham, for children giving up dummies


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A dad has created a special "dummy tree" in the woods as a way of encouraging children to part with their dummies.

Parents Michael and Gemma Dodsworth, from Chatham, decided to take action after trying everything to get their three-year-old daughter Primrose to let go of hers.

Michael and daughter Primrose at the dummy tree. Picture: Gemma Dodsworth
Michael and daughter Primrose at the dummy tree. Picture: Gemma Dodsworth

Mum-of-four Gemma said: "We tried letting the elves take them to Father Christmas, putting them under her pillow for the dummy fairy...but nothing worked.

"It can be a bit stressful, when your child's over three and you want to get rid of their dummy. Especially when it can affect their teeth so badly, and their speaking.

"Then we heard about a 'dummy tree' over at Leybourne Lakes.

"Obviously we can't travel there during the lockdown, so I said to my husband, 'why don't we create our own?' Next thing I know he's in the garage raiding my Christmas box for decorations."

Michael and son Harry, 13, found a tree in Walderslade Woods about two minutes from their home, and adorned it with baubles and a sign.

Michael and Harry Dodsworth have created a 'dummy tree' in Walderslade Woods, Chatham. Picture: Gemma Dodsworth
Michael and Harry Dodsworth have created a 'dummy tree' in Walderslade Woods, Chatham. Picture: Gemma Dodsworth

Yesterday, Primrose collected up her dummies and the family visited the tree during their daily walk.

"She was excited because we told her there are fairies in the dummy tree," said Gemma. "If you give them your dummies they'll give you a present, and your dummies will then go to other little children that need them.

"So she was really pleased to do it. We hung the dummies on the tree, and it was a success! She hasn't asked for them since. It's amazing. For us it was worth it just for that."

But keen to see if the tree could help other parents, Gemma posted about her husband's creation on Facebook page Lordswood & Walderslade Community Group.

And to her surprise, hundreds of people have since responded to her post, praising the idea.

Gemma and Primrose placing dummies on the tree. Picture: Gemma Dodsworth
Gemma and Primrose placing dummies on the tree. Picture: Gemma Dodsworth

"Fantastic," said one commenter, while another said "I am sure lots of dummies will be put on the tree".

Some people have raised concerns over the impact the dummies and decorations could have upon wildlife.

But Gemma says she plans to make sure the tree and adornments are kept maintained, during her daily walks.

"We're just amazed by how crazy this has gone," she said. "I can't beleive how many people are going down to the woods to see it, or are going to try it with their little ones.

"My husband ran past the tree earlier on, and there are now six dummies there."

A sign leads the way. Picture: Gemma Dodsworth
A sign leads the way. Picture: Gemma Dodsworth

Gemma has also put together a poem, giving directions to the tree:

On Impton lane, the steps you will see,

they lead you to the dummy tree!

Down you step, 123,

at the bottom what will be?

A bench to rest, then turn right,

keep going it’s almost in sight!

On your left you will see,

the sign for the special tree!

Dummy fairies live inside,

they are magical, please be kind.

Then over the log bridge,

under the fallen tree,

you will see the dummy tree!

She has also created a Facebook page dedicated to the Walderslade Woods dummy tree.

Read more: All the latest news from Medway

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