With our next event approaching fast, we are busy preparing for our free annual Wassail being held on Sunday 20th January at the historic St Laurence Orchard located on the corner of Eastwoodbury Lane and St Laurence Way in Southend.
St Laurence Orchard dates back to around 1920 when the land was leased to local soldiers. Bramley and King of Pippin apple trees were amongst the first to be planted but the orchard now also boasts a vast array of apple trees as well as greengages, plums and pears too! The orchard came under threat during proposed development plans for the area in 2000 when conservation volunteer, and now Trust Links Trustee, Ron Bates, spent time researching the origins of the orchard and working with the council to save the historic site.
Trust Links have been managing St Laurence Orchard on behalf of Southend Borough Council since 2005, and it now offers a therapeutic space for people with mental health problems to retreat to, learn new skills, get active, and find solace away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Ron said "as a traditional orchard it has always been valued and I have enjoyed being part of its community development over the last decade or two.”
Ron will be planting a new tree at the forthcoming event and continued "We have planted a new tree at our Wassailing event for the last six years because we need to keep renewing parts of the old orchard to bring the new and old together.”
At Trust Links we rely heavily on volunteers and work parties to help maintain the Orchard, and Ron spent time last Sunday at the site with other kind-hearted helpers from the South East Essex Conservation Volunteers to carry out some much needed maintenance. The group who enjoy managing and improving local wildlife areas, give up their time every other week to carry out practical conservation projects at various locations like St Laurence Orchard, and fellow conservation volunteer, Annette Payne, (who joined Ron and the team on Sunday) is also a committed and passionate Garden Coordinator at Trust Links.
She said "whilst Wassailing is an ancient folk custom to awaken the trees ahead of spring in the hope of a good harvest, it is also a really wonderful way to come together during the coldest time of the year and have fun in a beautiful outside space. We hope to once again welcome many along to our orchards to join in with the fun and enjoy folk music, warm spiced apple juice and home-made apple pie”.
Our Wassailing event takes place at St Laurence Orchard in Southend from 2pm-3.30pm on Sunday 20thJanuary and is completely free. For more information visit http://www.trustlinks.org/events or call 01702 213134.