Twickenham charity and Gruffalo illustrator team up for online workshop

Children enjoyed a virtual drawing workshop with Gruffalo illustrator Axel Scheffler last weekend, as he teamed up with a Twickenham-based nature conservation charity.

Habitats & Heritage partnered with the artist responsible for children’s favourite drawings from Stickman and Snail and the Whale to encourage creativity and an interest in nature.

The charity has also launched a photography competition for locals of all ages, aimed at showcasing the natural beauty of south west London.

CONSERVATION: Habitats & Heritage work across south west London to encourage an interest in nature

Colin Cooper, CEO of Habitats & Heritage, said: “As part of the event we try and foster more of an interest in children, young people and families in getting involved in their environment.

“We’re extremely fortunate Axel is such a committed supporter and active patron of our charity. 

“His workshop will be a big hit with families looking for creative ways to get into the Christmas spirit. 

“While Axel brings the magic of the nation’s favourite children’s book characters into people’s homes, Habitats & Heritage will take care of the magic outside.”

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the event was held online instead of in-person.

Cooper said that while this changed the dynamic of the event, it also meant that they had families join from as far away as Sweden and Italy.

Regarding his advice on making the most of nature during the pandemic, Cooper added: “In a period of peak anxiety and work, it’s so important to get out and have a break from your desk, have a break from the screen, and have a break in nature. It resets us.  

“We know that there’s a looming mental health crisis that we’re storing up, hopefully being out in nature will help reduce the extent of what that might be.

“We have been encouraging people to go out in nature and people have found that themselves, that it’s not an antidote for our depressing times but certainly it helps uplift the mood and spirits.”

As part of the workshop, children got the opportunity to draw-a-long with Axel Scheffler, ask questions to the illustrator, and listen to him read extracts from his and Julia Donaldson’s well-known books.

Ahead of the event Scheffler said, “I’m looking forward to welcoming families to this festive virtual workshop. 

“It’s going to be really enjoyable for everyone, as we throw ourselves into the creative process and produce some wonderful illustrations. 

“I’m happy to support the important work of Habitats & Heritage in this way.”

To continue the effort to enjoy and preserve nature in south west London, locals can enter the charity’s free photography competition to find the picture that best celebrates local habitats and heritage. 

The winning photo will announced at the start of next year and will feature on Habitats & Heritage’s new website.

You can read about a Gruffalo trail in Kew Gardens over the October half-term here.

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