Fifteen million trees were felled by the Great Storm which hit the south of England in 1987.
However, the remarkable Turner's Oak in Kew Gardens not only survived, it thrived. It subsequently changed the way that trees are cared for around the world.
The Great Storm lifted the 200 year old Oak clear out of the ground. It landed back in the hole created and was thought to have been irrevocably damaged.
What transpired however was very different. Having begun to show signs of stress and decline before the great storm, Turner’s Oak was not only now healthy, but thriving again.
It transpired that when the roots of Turners Oak were pulled out, it broke up the soil around the tree, allowing air and water around the roots. Over decades, visitors to the park walking around the tree had unknowingly compacted the soil around it, preventing water from draining down effectively, but also squeezing out any air or gases in the gaps between soil particles.
By loosening and freeing the roots, the Great Storm had allowed Turner’s Oak to breathe again and to enter a new lease of life much greater than the one it was living before the storm.
That was the start of a new era for how trees are cared for. New techniques were introduced to aerate the soil by injecting air around the roots of other trees, not only in Kew but in gardens around the world.
We see many parallels with Turners Oak when we support older movers and their families with a potential move. Moves, by their very nature, are uprooting; especially for those that have lived in their current home for many years. We also see the parallels in the revitalisation and new lease of life that older homeowners and their families experience either after a move or simply after having a proactive conversation about their living situation.
Our approach is, of course, not to come in like a storm in the night. Instead we begin to ‘loosen the compacted roots’ by listening and learning about our clients and providing empathetic, pragmatic advice that allows them to make informed decisions about their future.
By building client-centred relationships and partnerships we are trusted to support and empower our clients towards a new lease of life. Whether that is supporting an immediate move, a more medium term move, or suggesting improvements to the current home with no intention of a move at all.
We are also engaged in the wider conversations about how we can prevent the ‘compacting of the soil’ for our clients in the first place. What support could be given earlier? How can we ‘aerate the soil’ for older people? How can we continually challenge the traditional moving process so that older people don’t wait until their health or wellbeing is rapidly declining and they become forced to move rather than choosing to move?