A Tree for Steve

In a prominent position in the middle of Churchfield is a tiny elm. It was planted in memory of a man whose support was crucial to us in our early days as a Friends group. Steve Robinson gave us insider knowledge, research and expertise, and shared with us his longstanding vision for a place which was close to his heart. On January 8th 2016 he died of cancer.

We chose an elm for Steve because just recently in Denby Dale, a colony of rare White Letter Hairstreak butterflies suddenly lost their habitat when the young elms the caterpillars feed on, were dug up due to building work. We’re sure Steve would approve of this choice – but we hope the butterflies don’t find the sapling quite yet!

An old friend of Steve’s bought the young elm, the plaque was donated by the Friends, and the tree was planted by our former and current Chairpersons, Barbara Priest and Alan Coe, with the help of a former running mate of Steve’s, Jegs Morris, and the blessing of Steve’s family.

Steve, Maggie and their children grew and thrived in Denby Dale. We very much hope that “Steve’s elm” will do the same. Steve left us all far too early – but in a sense he is still with us – as explained in this song which I know meant a lot to Steve and is reproduced here in full. It’s a sentiment we can all share. Thanks Steve. Rest in peace.

Lorraine Fletcher for the Friends, May 2017

THE JOY OF LIVING
Ewan MacColl, 1986

Farewell, you northern hill, you mountains all, goodbye.
Moorland and stony ridges, crags and peaks, goodbye.
Glyder Fach, farewell, Cul Beig, Scafell, cloud-bearing Suilven.
Sun-warmed rock and the cold of Bleaklow’s frozen sea,
The snow and the wind and the rain of hills and mountains.
Days in the sun and the tempered wind and the air like wine –
And you drink and you drink till you’re drunk on the joy of living.

Farewell to you, my love, my time is almost done.
Lie in my arms once more until the darkness comes.
You filled all my days, held the night at bay, dearest companion.
Years pass by and are gone with the speed of birds in flight,
Our life like the verse of a song heard in the mountains.
Give me your hand then, love, and join your voice with mine –
We’ll sing of the hurt and the pain and the joy of living.

Farewell to you, my chicks, soon you must fly alone.
Flesh of my flesh, my future life, bone of my bone.
May your wings be strong, may your days be long, safe be your journey.
Each of you bears inside of you the gift of love –
May it bring you light and warmth and the pleasure of giving.
Eagerly savour each new day and the taste of its mouth –
Never lose sight of the thrill and the joy of living.

Take me to some high place of heather, rock and ling.
Scatter my dust and ashes, feed me to the wind.
So that I will be part of all you see, the air you are breathing.
I’ll be part of the curlew’s cry and the soaring hawk,
The blue milkwort and the sundew hung with diamonds.
I’ll be riding the gentle wind that blows through your hair.
Reminding you how we shared in the joy of living.