I am JUST a TREE…..by WWI Commemoration Artist Charron Pugsley-Hill

I am just a tree……

I stand tall and proud in Western Road, Sheffield, a road lined with houses in a busy, bustling city, in Yorkshire, in England, in the world.


When I was planted in 1919 as a sapling,  this street was quiet, a legacy from the war just gone. I heard the men planting me say “These trees are to remember the men who have died in the Great War from Sheffield.” I stood taller to be that tree. As the men turned to go. I noticed one man who had tears falling down his face. He touched my tiny branch, and whispered “for my son, Edward”. I stood taller again…..for Edward….

I am a Memorial Tree…..


I have seen so many changes since I was that tiny sapling, planted in hope…..When I was first here I rarely saw a car. Now hundreds roar down the streets around me, each hour, each day. I have seen the clothes of the people change over the years I have stood here. I have seen so many changes…… My strength, long-life and regal stature make me a monument.

I was planted by people  as a living memorial of life-changing events. I have recorded the history of so many families as they have grown from young to old.

I am  a historical tree……

Today in my proud 97 years, I capture the pollution caused by so many cars as people go about their daily business. I clean the air that the people strolling down this street so take for granted. I muffle the noise of everyday life. Together with other trees I save lives.

I am a pollution capture tree….

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I am home to thousands and thousands of small creatures and I have a resident tawny owl living in my upper levels.

I am a wildlife habitat tree…..

I show people what the seasons are with the colour of my leaves, green, orange, brown, red or no leaf at all…

I am a seasonal tree…..


I heal people and I make them feel better emotionally about their lives, living in a busy city. I give a soothing canopy of green above their heads…I cool these streets from the summer sun. I reduce feelings of fear and lessen violence under my natural roof.

I am a healing spiritual tree….

I produce enough oxygen for 4 people every day. I make the oxygen that all these people rely on.

I am a life giving tree…….

I give the impression of narrowing the road so the cars that come here go slower. I separate the precious people on pavements from the roaring cars.

I am a safety tree…..

I see the lady in the window of the house opposite, looking up at me as she lifts a paint brush to canvas in her studio. I inspire people spiritually with my majesty towering over these streets…

I am an inspirational tree…….

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I give value to the houses in these green streets. People choose to live in this  street.I add life to the roads and pavements by shading them from the weather above.

I am a valuable tree………

I capture the water that would otherwise flow down the streets of this city when the rain falls.

I am a flood prevention tree…..

I, and others like me, give a sense of pride of place, a landmark amongst many that shows where you are. I create a peaceful, pleasing place to be.

I am a sense of place tree……..

I can bring people together in a community, who stop and talk under my boughs. People strengthen their friendships and their community under my shady canopy. Lovers stop and kiss against my sturdy trunk. Many childhood memories include me as part of their lifetime story.

I am a community tree…….

I am  beautiful and majestic. No other tree is like me. We all have an endless variety of shapes, forms, textures and vibrant colors in an urban space.

I am a beautiful living tree…..

Yesterday a man and a woman came and placed a beautiful yellow ribbon around my trunk and attached a sign to it. I heard them say how much they loved me standing in their street and wanted me to be there for the rest of their lives.

I am a loved tree…..

I see a woman holding the hand of a small girl. She is asking her mother” why is that yellow ribbon around that tree?”. The woman shakes her head and tells the story of the men of Sheffield, and these trees planted to remember the men of a hundred years ago who died in The Great War. Your Great Great Grandfather was one of these men-Edward was his name. The little girl nods, and as they turn to go, I hear her whisper, “goodbye Great Great Grandfather…”




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A note from Charron:


I am now involved in the Campaign to prevent the desecration of Western Road Memorial Avenue of trees in Sheffield having been sent information about the plans by Sheffield City Council to fell 23 out of 54 of the trees in the Avenue. These trees are mostly being felled because they are damaging pavement and roadside kerbs. There are options to deal with these issues that prevent the felling of these trees but have been rejected by The City Council and Amey the contractors being used by Sheffield City Council. Peaceful protestors have been arrested in a dawn operation in Rustlings Road and this has now become not just about the trees but our right to peaceful protest……..If you want to learn more please go to SHEFFIELD tREE ACTION GROUP on Facebook and like the page to add your support. Thank you

For more of my series of art on Commemorating WWI-a hundred years on please see my blogs, website and Charron Pugsley-Hill Art on Facebook.

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