The Rotary Club’s Tree of Joy for Guernsey children

November 18th, 2013 by Richard Lord

Qualified tree surgeon James Wilkins of Charles Vaudin Tree Surgery using a Bob Froome crane to help him secure with a plastic hosepipe the 32 light strings that make up the Rotary Club of Guernsey Tree of Joy. (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

Qualified tree surgeon James Wilkins of Charles Vaudin Tree Surgery using a Bob Froome crane to help him secure with a plastic hosepipe the 32 light strings that make up the Rotary Club of Guernsey Tree of Joy on the Weighbridge roundabout. (click image to expand – ©RLLord)

Richard Collas, the Bailiff of Guernsey, was invited to place the star light at the top of the Rotary Club of Guernsey Tree of Joy at the Weighbridge roundabout on 17 November 2013 to help bring attention to the purpose of the Tree of Joy, which dominates the St Peter Port waterfront during the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Richard Collas, the Bailiff of Guernsey (centre) returns from the top of the Rotary Club of Guernsey Tree of Joy where he placed the star light to bring recognition to the Tree's purpose (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

Richard Collas, the Bailiff of Guernsey (centre) returns from the top of the Rotary Club of Guernsey Tree of Joy where he placed the star light to bring recognition to the Tree of Joy’s purpose (click image to expand – ©RLLord)

John Hollis, a member of the Community Services Committee within the Rotary Club of Guernsey, said “we’re not just lighting up the Town for Christmas.”

“The Tree of Joy Christmas lights are a reminder of the existence of Guernsey’s disadvantaged children and also the generosity of the Guernsey public.”

“Around autumn time, the Rotary Club of Guernsey and our sister charity, The Inner Wheel Club of Guernsey, receive from various agencies, civil service departments, medical practices, and some of the schools, a list of the disadvantaged children on the island,” Mr Hollis said.

Richard Collas, the Bailiff of Guernsey, chatting with Rotary Club of Guernsey members after returning to the ground (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

Richard Collas, the Bailiff of Guernsey, chatting with Rotary Club of Guernsey members after having placed the star light at the top of the Weighbridge roundabout mast (click image to expand – ©RLLord)

“The decision as to the children that go on the list is down to the various state and private agencies that work with children and their families.”

“We sort out the list, remove duplicate names, and develop a master list of children that the Guernsey public will buy presents for.”

“This year there was a list of just under 700 children in total, which is an increase from previous years,” he said.

“The children on the list are between the ages of two and 12, and are deemed to be having a difficult time for various reasons.”

“The agencies provide us with a first name – sometimes that is obscured if it is an uncommon name – the gender, and the age of the child, and a suggested present from someone who knows that child and the child’s circumstances,” he said.

We write each child’s details on a separate tag and these tags are distributed to various Guernsey retail shops and banks.

Richard Collas, the Bailiff of Guernsey get hoisted in a bucket to the top of the Rotary Tree of Joy for a second time - this time to be interviewed by BBC Guernsey's John Randall (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

Richard Collas, the Bailiff of Guernsey, is hoisted in a bucket to the top of the Rotary Tree of Joy for a second time – this time to be interviewed by BBC Guernsey’s John Randall (click image to expand – ©RLLord)

In Josef of Switzerland the tags are hanging on the Christmas tree in the hairdressing salon.

The Guernsey Post Office, and the Guernsey Information Centre also display the tags.

Members of the public visiting these locations take one of the tags, and go to whichever shop they want to buy the suggested present, or another present if they wish.

They buy the present, wrap it, and bring it back to that location, and then Rotary Club of Guernsey volunteers (‘elves’) collect all the presents, and take them to the agencies or to the schools that provided the children’s names so that the present reaches the child via Father Christmas or via the parents of the children.

Once the Rotary Club of Guernsey Tree of Joy is lit on the 28 November 2013 there is only until the 15 December to distribute all the tags, and get all the wrapped Christmas presents returned.

“It does mean that someone in the last few days might look for a tag that has already been claimed, which is a nice problem for the Rotary Club of Guernsey to have,” Mr Hollis said.

Richard Collas, the Bailiff of Guernsey (centre) with Jerry Girard on the left, and John Hollis on the right (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

Richard Collas, the Bailiff of Guernsey (centre) with Rotary Club of Guernsey members Jerry Girard on the left, and John Hollis on the right (click image to expand – ©RLLord)

“What the Rotary Club is going to try to do is find a way for those people who have missed collecting a tag but want to contribute, to allow them to contribute so that some of the help the Rotary Club of Guernsey provides during the year can be better funded as well.”

“The Rotary Club of Guernsey is not specifically a fund-raising club. It is more of a service club where people give their time but if the club has the money to give with it, it helps,” he said.

“There will never be enough money around to cover every good cause therefore it is up to us as a community to plug those gaps wherever we can.”

Deutsche Bank, Longport and Sure cover all the costs of getting the light strings up for the Rotary Tree of Joy at the Weighbridge roundabout and at Guernsey Airport, and States Works puts up the Christmas tree in the Town Church square.

In future years the Rotary Club of Guernsey will allow people and businesses to nominate who they want to send up to the top of the mast to place the star light.

“The highest bidder will have the opportunity to nominate someone to be taken to the top of the mast, and this bid will add to our fund to help children,” Mr Hollis said.

(left to right) Nigel Dorey, President of the Rotary Club of Guernsey, with Rod Goldsbrough and John Campbell, tightening the light strings to the tension wires (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

(left to right) Nigel Dorey, President of the Rotary Club of Guernsey, with Rod Goldsbrough and John Campbell, tightening the light strings to the tension wires (click image to expand – ©RLLord)

Mr Pat Johnson, Rotary Club member, said “the Tree of Joy on the Weighbridge roundabout is made up of 32 light strings that are each 32 metres long, which makes a total length of light strings of over one kilometre.”

“There are 6500 cable ties holding the light strings onto the tension wires.”

“When the light strings first went up several years ago, they were flailing in the wind and were damaged. Of the 32 brand new light strings, 21 of them failed in the first four weeks,” he said.

“Last year was the first year the circumference of the light strings was held together by three rings of hosepipe at 8 metre height intervals.”

James Wilkins, qualified tree surgeon working for Charles Vaudin Tree Surgery was tasked with attaching the light strings to three rings of hosepipe to stop the light strings being damaged by the wind (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

James Wilkins, qualified tree surgeon working for Charles Vaudin Tree Surgery, was tasked with attaching the light strings to three rings of hosepipe to stop the light strings flailing about and being damaged by the wind (click image to expand – ©RLLord)

“This stopped the light strings flailing about. Now all the light strings wobble like jelly in the wind and this reduced the light string failure rate to two strings last year,” Mr Johnson said.

“Besides the Tree of Joy, the Community Services Committee of the Rotary Club of Guernsey also organises the ITEX-Rotary Walk and also provides parcels for the elderly at Christmas with money raised from their flag day,” committee member Mr Steve Hogg added.

 

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