Bowsland Green’s Covid-19 ‘happiness snake’ finds a new home at Willow Brook

Photo of the official unveiling at the Willow Brook Centre.
Mayor Tony Griffiths (centre) unveils the new setting for the ‘happiness snake’ in the Willow Brook Centre garden, accompanied by Steve Marshall & children (left) and Richard Baker of the Willow Brook Centre

A stone ‘happiness snake’ created during the coronavirus lockdown along the side of a popular footpath in Bradley Stoke has found a permanent home at the town’s Willow Brook shopping centre.

Originally located near the Ellicks Close footbridge in the Three Brooks Local Nature Reserve, the colourful snake, formed of hundreds of painted pebbles and rocks, was started by Year 3 pupils at the nearby Bowsland Green Primary School.

Members of the public were invited to add to the installation and it eventually grew to incorporate over 800 stones stretching out over tens of metres along the path.

Photo of the tail of the 'happiness snake'.
Tail of the ‘happiness snake’ when located in the nature reserve during lockdown.

After the lockdown restrictions were eased, consideration was given to moving the snake to the school grounds, but as so many people from the wider community had contributed to it, a more widely accessible site was sought.

Steve Marshall, the Bowsland parent who started the snake, explained:

“The Covid snake idea originated from the popular Family Lockdown Tips and Ideas group on Facebook. I’d seen another area start one and I showed Olivia (at the time Year 5) and Jamie (at the time Year 3) and instantly realised that this would be a great thing to do to keep the children thinking of their school friends while they weren’t able to play together.”

“We had some stones that we painted to look like a head and did a few others to get it started. We chose the footpath in the Three Brooks so we could access it without needing to go on school grounds. It took off really quickly, the rest of the school started contributing, then so did everyone else. My main concern was what I was going to do with all the stones at the end of lockdown!”

“Thankfully, Amy (another Bowsland parent) came to my rescue and negotiated a permanent home for the snake. I still had to help pick them up though!”

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Andy Wynn, manager of the Willow Brook centre, commented:

“We had been looking for ways in which we could help the community to reflect upon and remember the lockdown period, and the Covid-19 period as a whole, in the coming years. When Amy approached us to discuss the happiness snake it was the perfect opportunity for us to help out. The snake, in its original position, was a great, simple example of the community spirit of Bradley Stoke that grew out of one class at Bowsland into something that hundreds of people in our community contributed to. We are delighted to have been able to help relocate the snake to somewhere where it can stay and act as a focal point for years to come.”

Photo of the official unveiling at the Willow Brook Centre.
Guests at the official unveiling stand along the tail of the ‘snake’.

Bradley Stoke mayor Tony Griffiths, who officially unveiled the ‘snake’ at its new home on 12th September, commented:

“It was a delight to officially open the ‘happy trail’ at Willow Brook. It was an honour to meet some of the children who painted the stones during the Covid lockdown. In time, they will be able to show their individual contributions to their own children, which will go down in history.”

“ I would like the thank all who were involved – the Friends of Bowsland, the children, and particularly Andy Wynn of the Willow Brook Centre, who organised the funding and site to have the stones laid as a permanent reminder of this dreadful pandemic.”

Photo showing detail of the Bowsland Green 'happiness snake' at Willow Brook.
Detail of the Bowsland Green ‘happiness snake’ at Willow Brook.

The ‘snake’ can be found in a small garden area adjacent to Bradley Stoke Way, close to the Giant cycle store (see aerial view below).

Aerial view showing the location of the small garden area at the Willow Brook Centre.
Location of the small garden area at the Willow Brook Centre.

This article originally appeared in the October 2020 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal magazine (on pages 20 & 21). The magazine is delivered FREE, nine times a year, to ALL 8,700 homes in Bradley Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

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