I joined hands with Akshata Murphy, the PM’s wife, some 10 year olds and a little oak sapling. Unheeding of our positions, our power, our background or circumstances, the biorhythms of our bodies sent vibrations through the leaves of the little tree and down a wire to a speaker, producing melodious music. If one person broke the circle of hands, the music fell away leaving a wondrous silence. When our hands reconnected, the music sprang back to life, the notes responding to this connection of living souls, tree and human, old and young. The shared experience of being alive stripped back any tension, ego or difference.
When I walked through the door of 10 Downing Street to help the Tree Council give a lesson on ‘if trees could talk’ to 35 primary school children as part of Mrs Murphy’s Lessons at 10 scheme, it was with conflicting emotions. I was here to inspire children to take action for nature, while one of the UK’s richest and most powerful people looked on, nodding and clapping and the PM himself was at COP28. But maybe, this was an opportunity to arouse emotion and empathy within the adults in the room, not just the young. The Tree Council’s plant wave is just the first in their series of fascinating activities for young people. Kneeling beside Mrs Murphy, I led a group murder mystree activity to help the children identify the killer of an ash tree. On discovering that the murderer was drought, I talked about climate change and the urgent need to act at all levels. What thoughts were going through the PM’s wife, only she will know, as she talked about her love for trees and her children’s passion for nature.
I took to the floor in the state room in Number 10 to deliver a speech on Power of 10 and being a force for nature. If each one of us planted 45 trees, we would reach the UK’s target of planting 3 billion. The open mouths that were turned to me gave me a pretty clear idea that the talk had gone down well and that the children would leave the room inspired to take action. Whether the walls were listening too, only time will tell.
Inspiring and influencing aside, sitting in the UK Prime Minister chair was a pretty cool experience, only topped by stroking Larry the cat on the doorstep!