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Local schools invited to apply for artistic wildlife benches

Treefest Sculptures - Bear

15 May 2014

This summer, three artistic wooden benches will be created by expert carvers around the theme of ‘wildlife,’ at Treefest, the signature summer event at the Forestry Commission’s National Arboretum at Westonbirt.

It is a Treefest tradition to find a new home for the sculptures created during the event, and after the huge level of interest last year, the arboretum would again like to offer local primary schools  in Wiltshire and Gloucestershire the chance to own one of the finished carvings.

The three designs include Ant Beetlestone’s ’Bear with me’ bench, a carved wooden bear with a seat on its back, Dan Cordell’s woodland ’Prickles and Paws’ which features a family of hedgehogs, an astute fox and a sneaky squirrel and Paul Sivell’s ‘Staggering’ bench  with carved oak leaves and etched in stag beetles.

The benches aim to encourage and support outdoor learning about wildlife and animal habitats, as well as being an addition to classes such as reading and drama.

Each design will be carved from Westonbirt timber, measuring 6ft long by 3ft high. The wood will be removed from the tree collection as part of the arboretum’s routine management process.

Schools interested in owning one of the sculptures should visit and complete a 200 word application form by 5pm on Friday 11 July 2014. The sculptures will be allocated ahead of Treefest, which this year will take place 23 to 25 August.

Simon Hough, the Forestry Commission’s recreation manager at Westonbirt commented:

“Big carving and sculptures have been part of the event for the last 20 years, since it started out as Sculptree. It has always been an aim of ours to teach future generations about our woodlands and the animals that inhabit them, so it seemed a great opportunity to theme these carvings around woodland wildlife.

“Last year’s sculptures have been so well received from the schools that we were very keen to do it again. It’s a great way for us to share Westonbirt’s magic with children across the region.”

This year the annual festival will celebrate its 20th anniversary. In 1995, the event, known then as Sculptree, focused on wood carvings and sculptures. Carving remains a focal point for Treefest, which now attracts around 20,000 visitors each year and takes place across the August Bank Holiday weekend, celebrating nature, trees, woodcraft and family fun with activities, exhibitors and live music.

2014’s Treefest will celebrate its heritage as well as introduce new entertainment and displays to the packed three day schedule. Displays such as falconry and archery will return to the festival and the newly named ‘Westonbirt at Work’ exhibitor area will be expanded to demonstrate the journey of wood to visitors.

Children’s activities include Treefrog climbing, zip wires and, new this year, den building, where children can learn why we need shelters, what materials to use and build their own dens in the trees.

In 2011, Treefest introduced a new Food Hall to offer visitors tasty delights, this year the team have joined forces with Love Food Festival to expand the offer and showcase treats from 30 local producers.

New and more diverse catering outlets will join the festival, with vegetarian world cuisine by Café Chameleon, strawberries and cream teas from The Strawberry Chariot, local organic burgers, sausages and bacon from Peradon Farm, Stroud Brewery and Winstones Ice Cream.

Adult tickets are £15 per person, concessions at £12 and children under 18 go free. Members of the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum receive a 50 per cent discount with adult tickets priced at £7.50 per person and concessions at £6.

More details are available from



  1. Westonbirt, The National Arboretum is managed by the Forestry Commission and is renowned worldwide for its tree and shrub collection. Home to the National Japanese Maple Collection, the arboretum covers 243 hectares (600 acres) and contains 16,000 specimens. Visitor numbers are over 350,000 a year, with a membership of over 28,000. Westonbirt Arboretum was established in the 1850s by wealthy landowner Robert Holford, and later developed by his son George Holford.  Unlike many arboretums, Westonbirt is laid out according to aesthetic appeal rather than scientific or geographical criteria. Visit
  2. The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment.  Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from planting and managing attractive, as well as productive, woodlands.  Further information can be found at
  3. The Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum was formed in 1985. The charity’s objects are to support the National Arboretum in promoting public understanding of the crucial role of trees to the environment and society. It is funded by membership receipts from over 28,000 members, other fundraising, and the use of the Great Oak Hall for events and activities. The Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum is a registered charity no. 293190. More information at  

Useful links:

Emily Pryor, Communications Manager, Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, on 01666 881 207 or email:

Dani Marlborough, Senior Consultant, Spirit Public Relations on 0117 944 1415 or email:

Last updated: 8th August 2016

England's Woods and Forests are cared for by Forest Enterprise England, an agency of the Forestry Commission.