It’s magic! Norfolk man creates ‘fairy tree’ in front garden in girl’s memory
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017
When a Norfolk man was left with the 10ft remains of an oak tree in his front garden, he was stumped to know what to do with it.
But it did not take 57-year-old roofing contractor Neil Rafis long to come up an idea, and he quickly set about putting his building skills to work.
Now the efforts of Mr Rafis's labours have become an unexpectedly delightful new attraction in the village of Wreningham, where he lives in Ashwellthorpe Road.
With its pitched roof and miniature doors and windows, passers-by have been stopping to take photos of the fairy-story structure, which has been christened Emily's House.
Mr Rafis said: 'There was a 70ft oak tree outside my house, and last June a big branch fell off.
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'It had a (TPO) tree preservation order on it, but it had a disease and it had to be cut down.
'Then I was left with a 10ft stump. I first put a little roof on it and then it grew from there.'
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And Mr Rafis then decided to turn the 'fairy tree house' into something which not only put a smile on people's faces, but also helped others.
He dedicated it to little Emily Rush, who died of a rare type of kidney cancer called Wilms Tumour in December 2015. Mr Rafis is a friend of Emily's parents, Mick and Julie Apicella, who live near Wisbech.
He said young visitors could search the tree for a sweet surprise. Mr Rafis said: 'I've hidden some lollies around the tree for children to find, and I've put up a collection box next to it if their parents want to make a donation.'
He said money donated would to towards East Anglia's Children's Hospices (EACH), which cared for Emily before she died, aged just eight.
Mr Rafis said: 'I also thought it would be a nice way of raising awareness of what EACH do.'
He said the tree house had attracted a lot of attention so far. Mr Rafis said: 'People have been stopping to take photos with it, and they're welcome to.
'The teachers from the local school knocked on the door and asked if the children could come down and draw it, which they did.'
Donations to the appeal can also be made online at uk.virginmoneygiving.com, search for In memory of Emily Rush