‘Helping Hand’ and the ‘Wonky Conker’
Some years before the construction of Bideford Quay it was decided to chop down the mature trees on the riverbank in order to facilitate the building of the new car park. Many trees were sawn down on a Sunday before an outraged public became aware of the destruction. One brave fellow sat by the “Wonky Conker” to save it from the chainsaws.
A few years later, Torridge District Council got in contact with local artist John Butler explaining that the “Wonky Conker” was in need of some physical support. Mr Butler designed what he called ‘The Helping Hand’ – a metal prop covered to look like a log wrist with oak used to carve the hand & fingers.
|Charles Kingsley statue, Bideford, Devon in front of the ‘Wonky Conker’|
Firstly, the branch was supported by the metal prop that had been set into the ground. A sleeve was then constructed around the prop. Fingers were then formed from individual lengths of oak and bolted together. Finally, the fingers, palm and thumb of the hand were set into the sleeve.
A local woman, Mrs Mayhew, who read about the Council initiative in the media, offered to pay all costs if it could be a memorial to her late husband Samuel. Of course all parties agreed & the initials S.T.M. & 1914-2000 were carved into the cuff.
Not only did the Torridge District Council take the time to save a perfectly healthy tree, but they also used the work of a local artist to do so, allowing his work to be seen in a public space.