A mother-of-two has been left ‘shocked and saddened’ after a magical fairy tree she had created in North Lancing was stripped bare.
Since Hayley Rogers set up the tree near Impulse Leisure Centre in July 2015, hundreds of families have visited to leave drawings, letters, flowers and gifts for the tree fairy.
But, sometime in the last week, someone or some people have cleared away all the items.
Hayley said: “It is heartbreaking that someone would take these things away, without even thinking of the time and effort we put into this, or offering to return our pieces.
“This is such a disappointing thing to have happened to such a magical place, and to have been stripped right at the beginning of the summer holidays too, when a large percentage of families will have been visiting the tree and encouraging their children to embrace the outdoors, for free!
“As you can imagine, this has caused a lot of upset within the local community.”
Whoever cleared away the items also left a note at the tree, which was signed from ‘the fairy’.
Written in verse, the note read: “My friends are the creatures who live in the wood, but foil, glitter and plastic all do them no good, so my message to all is really quite clear, please don’t leave harmful things like that here.”
Hayley said: “It just seems like a certain individual or organisation didn’t feel that it was environmentally friendly enough for them and made a decision for the whole community.
“They could’ve got in touch with us, there are so many different ways to go about reaching out to us.
“The majority of the pieces left at the tree were children’s drawings, letters and colourings.
“And the majority of people understand the ethos of making natural things, bringing flowers and leaving daisy chains.
“Obviously there were some that laid down confetti or artificial flowers – but the amount of natural things far outweighed anything like that.
“If it really was an environmental issue, why not just take down the things that didn’t agree with that?”
Hayley added that the tree had helped get children and families interested in nature and the environment.
“So many of the mums that have spoken to us said they had never taken their children up there before, but now go up there with lunch boxes and spend the afternoon up there,” she said.
Hayley first came up with the idea for a fairy tree when she saw a similar attraction in Dublin on a family holiday.
In its first six weeks, some 540 letters, drawings and crafts were left at the tree.
Hayley and her family have bought items for the tree and spent hours hand-carving little doors out of logs and tiny little wooden houses – all of which have been taken.
But Hayley is determined the magic of the fairy tree will not be lost forever.
She said: “We are hoping to put something together for the local children, over the next few days or weeks, to go some way to replacing The Magical Fairy Tree.
“There’s been so much support for the tree.
“It would be sad if we didn’t do it.
“We have young children ourselves and we want something like that for our children to grow up with.”