Hans Christian Andersen Memorial Reading Seat
|Town or Locality:||Willunga|
|Built by:||STARS and Willunga Quarry Market|
H C Andersen’s 200th Birthday Celebrations
Once upon a time…. in fact, it was in 2005 that Southern Theatre and Arts Supporters (STARS) was the only Australian Arts related organisation without Danish connections to hold a series of events for HCA 2005 which was a worldwide celebration of the 200th Anniversary of the birth of Denmark’s famous writer of fairy tales, Hans Christian Andersen.
A lasting legacy of the HCA 2005 celebrations is the Hans Christian Andersen Andersen Memorial Reading Seat in Willunga.
Jerry Keyte, a local architect who had created the Willunga township seating from fallen local timber, was commissioned by STARS and the Willunga Quarry Market to design and build a reading seat in a location close to the Willunga Kindergarten and the Willunga Primary School.
This amazing project was a tribute to the community spirit of Willunga. Finding a location was made easy by consulting John Crowe an environmentalist who was working with a group of volunteers who were weeding a particular piece of land that was an ideal location for the seat. Consultation with Council resulted in approval to use the land. Mention was made to John that in Denmark an oak forest was being planted in Hans Christian Andersen’s honour. This prompted a group effort with Willunga Primary School to plant sheoak seeds in tubes.
Within a week of the idea being conceived, a partnership was forged between STARS and the Willunga Quarry Market to jointly fund the project, a location was found, the sheoak seeds were planted and the seat was commissioned and later erected.
Later in 2005, under the supervision of John Crowe and teachers Linda Desmond and Trevor Gobbett, sixty Willunga Primary School students from Years 5 and 6 planted approximately 330 sheoak (casuarina) trees around the Commemorative seat.
On Sunday 1st April 2007 a plaque was unveiled at the site of the Memorial Reading Seat to remind future generations of Willunga’s community spirit. Helen McSkimming, local Librarian who organised readings of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales by High Street business owners in 2005, unveiled the plaque. Peter Colling, alias Hans Christian Andersen, read a fairy tale or two and refreshments were served. Thanks were given to Malcolm Harrington for his professional guidance in designing the plaque and to the City of Onkaparinga for its ongoing support of the project.
To find the Hans Christian Andersen Memorial Reading Seat, travel along Station Road in Willunga and park in the car park. Walk right along the walking path for about 200 metres. You will find the seat under an old pear tree, nestled in a grove of sheoaks.
- From Brian Reader