Julian Knight's Westminster Diary, 12/03/20

Solihull Mail

Solihull’s official motto is ‘Urbs in Rure’. Meaning ‘the town in the countryside’, it nicely sums up our community’s special place at the boundary between the great urban centres of the West Midlands and the beautiful landscapes of rural Warwickshire.

In fact, this association stretches back further than you might think – as I learned when I joined the Mayor and scores of local residents to pay tribute to our very own Edwardian environmental icon, Edith Holden.

Holden lived in Solihull at the turn of the last century and taught at the Solihull School for Girls. Whilst there she wrote and illustrated her famous work, the Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady.

Originally intended to be a home-made textbook to teach her pupils to appreciate the natural world, it went on to become an international bestseller when it was published in 1977 and put Solihull firmly on the tourist trail.

Truly, Holden must stand as one of the great Silhillians. It was therefore a real pleasure to see our community turn out so strongly to commemorate her ‘centenary day’ and pay tribute with a range of events and initiatives inspired by her example.

These include an art exhibition at Olton Library; a regular and very popular watercolour workshop; and the unveiling of a brand-new community statue out of a tree on Kineton Green Road – a giant owl, carved over three days by sculptor Robot Cossey.

A fine, giant stone bird bath, commemorating Holden and her achievements, has also been installed in St Margaret’s Churchyard in Olton. This piece of history originally stood in the garden of her old home!

Finally, volunteers have installed a brand-new community ‘micro-garden’ on Warwick Road, reclaimed by Olton residents from a patch of overgrown waste ground. It really is a lovely spot, and a testament to all the hard work that went into it.

Overall, I think the event really brought together what has helped to make Solihull special down the years, with the life and achievements of one of our town’s most celebrated residents celebrated in the extraordinary volunteer efforts of our modern community. Thank you to everyone who turned up and took part.