Tree Planting at Tilebarn Wood in Memory of Malcolm Dodds

Malcolm Dodds, former Chair of Henley in Transition (HIT) from 2008 to 2016 who sadly passed away at the end of last year was honoured with the planting of three fruit trees at Tilebarn Wood (off Tilebarn Close) last week by Greener Henley (the rebranded name for Henley in Transition).

Malcolm and his wife, Gill were involved in HIT from its beginnings in 2008.  They answered a call from Dave McEwen who was trying to find other local residents interested in finding out more about the Transition Town movement.  A group of  8 local residents gathered round Malcolm & Gill’s kitchen table and Henley in Transition was born.

The first project for HIT was focused on organising an Energy Information Day at the River & Rowing Museum which allowed local residents to find out more about renewables and energy saving.  Malcolm’s background was design and engineering and he threw himself into this project and then pursued the idea of getting solar panels onto Henley roofs, particularly those of Henley Town Council. He formed the group officially in 2008 becoming the first Chair.

Malcolm soon started to apply for grants to finance the projects.  Unfortunately those initial grant applications were unsuccessful.  David McEwen said, “However 179 Solar Panels were installed on 3 Henley Town Council buildings in 2012. It is doubtful whether this would have been achieved without Malcolm’s vision and commitment to the project. The same can also be said of 2 other projects with which Malcolm was strongly identified – research projects carried out by MSc Engineering Students at Reading University which studied specific energy projects for HIT to take forward in the town.”

Tilebarn Wood, which is a short walk from Tilebarn Close was established at Forty Acre Field in 2011 when 224 hazel, ash, oak, cherry, silver and fruit trees were planted. The other part of Malcolm’s vision was ribbons of green running through the town. Greener Henley is still working to preserve and enhance this vision, through collaboration with Henley Town Council’s Climate Emergency Working Group and Parks Department.

David added, “Malcolm’s commitment to the aims of HIT also came out in his unstinting work on the first Henley Neighbourhood Plan.  This ultimately laid the ground for our involvement in the drafting of the revised plan which contains much of the work done by Malcolm and the group around his kitchen table.  Malcolm has an enduring legacy embodied in the projects that he worked on for the good of the town. Particularly Tilebarn Wood. It is entirely appropriate that his contribution should be recognised and remembered by the planting of 3 fruit trees there.”

Gill said, “Malcolm would be honoured to be remembered in this way. He was dogged in pursuing the HIT projects he championed. I think he was most proud of Tilebarn Wood, planted in 2011. Malcolm was with us long enough to see the wood flourish and when he was no longer well enough to visit, delighted in the photos and stories of how the wood was progressing. Thank you to the Greener Henley Group for organising a very special event.”