Arbors & Festivals: developing the project in the UK

Following meetings and discussions after the Volunteer Fair Pathways decided to develop two activities:

First: Initiate activities that would encourage planting and management of community arbors.

Second: continue to support voluntarily managed cultural & heritage activities in Bishop’s Castle; in particular the Bishop’s Castle Arts Festival in February 2016


An Arboreal Future

autumnal maple

During the autumn of 2015 Pathways held meetings with community groups in several local Welsh Border communities and produced an outline plan for the planting of trees in various locations.

There were two mains aspects of the plantings:

  1. creation of recreational and reflexive spaces within communities
  2. development of community based fruit orchards

All the work would be performed by volunteers, supported where necessary by professional expert advice & hiring of specialist equipment.

Pathways also initiated a series of social events designed as a means of

  • thanking volunteers for their efforts
  • encourage new recruits
  • publicise the work amongst local communities
  • developing a holistic approach to the work

– creating ‘arbors as a means of improving the environment (attending to physical needs)

–  creating celebrations that express feelings and develop inter-personal relationships (attending to emotional & psychological needs)

The Remembrance Tree

During October & November 2015 Pathways ID provided support to a local community group in the village of Sarn, Mid Wales who had decided to plant an oak tree in remembrance of all those who suffered & died during and as a result of the First World War.


An oak tree was purchased and donated & the day before the dedication of the tree it was planted in the grounds of Sarn Village Hall.

The group had been warned that the position chosen for planting was not easy & therefore group arranged for a mechanical digger to assist the process.

After initial preparations the ‘digger’ removed the soil and rock – but discovered that the water-table was very near the surface.

This is the ‘Sarn’ – which in English means ‘paved causeway’ – and the reason for such a causeway was being revealed in the digging process. The village hall and pub opposite are based on a watershed of natural wet ground created by the surrounding hills.

Fortunately the group had prepared for the situation and were able to place the oak tree into a growing medium that would hopefully allow it to establish itself.




The digger was then used to ensure the supporting stake was firmly in the ground:


And the following day, the 8th November, members of the Sarn community gathered for the dedication of the tree.



The planting & celebrations associated with this event marked the start of a process which will create a ‘Soul Spinney’ in the local churchyard. An ‘open access’ place where those visiting the graves of friends and relatives may sit and reflect.

Developing the work

The volunteers responsible for the organisation and planting of the Remembrance Tree thus began the process of planning the practical aspects of the Soul Spinney and developing other community actions.



Pathways continued its tradition of organising celebratory evenings with food and drink & in which existing volunteers were ‘thanked’ & new potential volunteers ‘encouraged’……

auld lang syne

…… and  creating events centred around the traditional theme of ‘wassailing’ in which apple trees greeted with music, song & gunfire & ‘decorated’ with toast and cider.

This event united the inhabitants of one area of Dyffryn Ceri in a processional visit to gardens with small apple orchards. The trees are greeted and at the end of the process the participants gather for a social evening.

The event is performed with an ‘informal formality’.


The Ceremonial Events through The City

Local tradition well attested in antick documents & here meticulously followed, requires

Gathering: outside the City,

Procession: through the ‘core’ of The City

Ascent: to Lower View, above The City

in each orchard:

The Solemn Address

to the trees

The Joyful Bellowing Alarum Call

dan arweiniad y Cerddorion y Ddinas Dyffryn Ceri (The ‘City’ Waits)

Announcing to the Apple Trees that The Year Has Turned

The Community Blessing

Made by All in Unity & Addressed to the trees that they Be Fruitful

The Gift of The Old Fruitful Life 

ensuring continuing bounty & placed on the Trees

The Wassailing Song 


The Great Awakening of the Apple Tree




wet wass


Traditional verses were used (incorporating ancient words lately discovered  & inscribed here with due diligence, the better to make a Good New Year)

Old Christmas it is past and gone

 Sun’s warmth is comin’ back here

We’re gatherin’ ‘neath the old apple tree

Askin’ blessings for the New Year

So sing well

And shout well

Let friends and neighbourhood hear

Waken up ol’ tree & bear good fruit

Give bounty to all far and near

Old apple tree, we’ll wassail thee,

And hoping thou wilt bear.

The Lord does know where we shall be

To be merry another year.

To blow well and to bear well

And so merry let us be;

Let every man drink up his cup

And health to the old apple tree.

Apples enow, hatfuls, capfuls, three-bushel bagfuls,
tollants ol full, barn’s floor full, little heap under the stairs.

Hip, hip, hip, hooroo!
Hip, hip, hip, hooroo!
Hip, hip, hip, hooroo! 

These words were followed with a great shouting & banging, accompanied by the echoing sound of firearms being discharged & the terrifying explosions of released party poppers. On occasions, rockets lit the night sky.

The social conclusion is of considerable importance – especially on cold, wet nights.


The investigatory work, the planning, the preparation & the planting continues:

Professional arboricultural expert advisors & volunteers are engaged in local planning & research of tree species appropriate to the local context. They are shown approaching an oak tree that began life in the C13th (i.e. over 800 years ago)

ancient oak in Sarn


……… and work continues with existing and new plantings:

the winter work of cutting, clearing, preparing & planting




Further Arboreal Action in February & March 2016

During the Project (end of March 2016) the volunteers will continue their winter actions of clearing, preparing and limited planting. Further consultation with experts will occur prior to making decisions on the shape, size & position of the various arbors and orchards being constructed.






Supporting the Bishop’s Castle Arts Festival, February 2016


BC fest


The festival is organised and managed by volunteers and provides, wherever possible, free & low cost events & activities. There is some sponsorship and those attending events are encouraged to donate to the costs of the whole  event. The Volunteer project is providing valuable financial support to the event. Without such support the volunteers would be unable to present the range of activities that they do – and pay for the major concerts held on Friday and Saturday evenings.

FOLK SHOWCASE at The Three Tuns Inn

Time – 7.30pm for 8pm

An evening of diverse folk music performed by: Sue Harris – one of Britain’s foremost hammered dulcimer players; Lisa Warburton – a member
of the English Dulcimer Trio with Sue Harris; BouZaTina – who combine their love of iconic ballads with traditional Irish music;
Devil’s Chair – who blend their own style into toe-tapping and memorable English songs and tunes; and Castle Voices who sing unaccompanied
songs from all over the world. 

Admission 7.50 POUNDS Tickets available from the Town Hall, and The Three Tuns Inn.





Time – 7.30 for 8pm

Top UK jazz violinist Mike Piggott and his Hot Club Trio present an entertaining programme of favourites 
from the music of Stephane Grappelli, Django Reinhardt and the Quintet of the Hot Club of France, Cole Porter, 
Fats Waller, George Gershwin to the “Blues”. The evening is not just for jazz fans – and includes one or two unusual musical instruments!’ 

Admission – 10 POUNDS Tickets available from the Town Hall and the Three Tuns Inn



The planning group meets regularly from July  through the autumn – and weekly from December until February.

This event is one of a series of events held in Bishop’s Castle throughout the year – all managed entirely by volunteers.

The social and economic impact of these events in a rural area such as the Welsh Border, is very important. Without the efforts made by the volunteers in creating such activities the general social and economic situation of the area would be greatly diminished.

The attitudes & processes that have created a vibrant local community in Bishop’s Castle is one of the elements that will form part of Pathways’ contribution to the new teaching courses & research being initiated by Glyndwr University.



The two aspects of Pathways work are designed to contain aspects of sustainability.

The basic actions of clearing, preparing & purchasing trees for the initial plantings will be completed before the end of March therefore the Pathways’ planning group is examining further developments of the Arboreal project.

As has been normal practise with Pathways projects, the developments link into the work of other agencies, locally, regionally and internationally.

At a local level the planning group have been, since October, in discussions with the communities of Sarn, Mainstone & Bettws y Crwyn regarding creation of Community Arbors & Orchards.

3 comms actn

It is anticipated that action will develop in the 3 communities during 2016.

The action will have several elements using the work performed during the “Europe for Citizens” Volunteering project as a foundation for longer term activities & in the process ensuring a sustainable future for the initial project based work.

Similarly, due to its nature as a voluntary managed project that has considerable social and economic impact, the Bishop’s Castle Arts Festival is also part of the further actions, relating particularly to work on social enterprise.

The developing work for Pathways divides into the following elements:

The local:

A continuation of the community based plantings & arbor creations enhanced by community celebrations

The regional:

Two aspects:

A ‘Green Line’ activity based on the 40th anniversary of peregrinations that began the whole ‘Pathways’ process.

Bishops Castle to Hereford:

A group will walk for 5 days to the Cathedral at Hereford – taking time to reflect on the apple and orchard traditions en route & through which the pilgrimage passes.

Association with Glyndwr University:

To develop new courses associated with volunteering & Social Enterprise. The work will be shared with international links developed by Pathways over many years & includes other European Universities wishing to develop teaching & research related to the Third Sector.

The international

Pathways is involved in creating 2 partnership programmes.

  • One with groups in Iasi, Romania, Arganil, Portugal, Kaunas, Lithuania & Kohoutov, Czech Republic designed to take all the arboreal work outlined above and develop actions with each partner. The partnership will also allow partners to bring their own experiences and together the whole group will develop contextually relevant programmes to create local ‘Arboreal Futures’.
  • A second with Glyndwr University (North Wales) with partners in Spain, Poland, Italy, Lithuania & Romania

Other international work will, subject to EU funding, bring members of the Polish partner in this project, Fundacja Aktywności Obywatelskiej, to the Welsh Border to share experience about creative approaches to community development.


Mapping the developing Links

Eur links

This partnership may be nearing its close…

& there is still work to be completed before the close of the present project

– but out of it have grown new links, new opportunities & a deeper sense of the nature of what it means to be, in 2016, ‘European’.


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