|Edna and Dick at a Tree Musketeers stall
with (foreground) Anne Woollett,
another great friend & activist
now looking after a Norfolk woodland
Many of the trees now growing and flourishing on Millfields were planted or looked after by Dick Ford, who died last week.
I first met Dick over a decade ago in what was then the Hackney Tree Wardens, local people volunteering to plant and care for trees. He was a man it was very easy to like – large, gentle, good-humoured and warm, with a big face and a throaty chuckle. And if Dick was on an outing, you got not only the pleasure of his company, but Edna’s home-made scones as well. So they were both very popular.
It was Dick and Edna’s popularity, in fact, which led to Hackney’s famous Tree Musketeers replacing the more demure Tree Wardens, following a wardens’ AGM at which Edna, not being a paid-up member, was asked to leave the room. My missus protested and we both left, as did most of the other active members. After that the Tree Musketeers were formed, where we understand that it’s people not rules that make a group tick. So the Musketeers are, in a way, part of Dick’s legacy.
Dick lived in Overbury Street and Millfields was his local park. Thinking over which trees we planted or mulched together, I’m sad to think that the cherries near the substation’s west wall were among the many Millfields trees ripped out by National Grid. It’s not only the greenery you lose when they send the bulldozers in. But the arboretums on north and south are still there and looking better every year, as are other teenage trees dotted round the edges and avenues. So next time you’re enjoying them, don’t forget to think of Dick Ford.