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Colliding worlds of a HS2 activist: the real life stories among the trees

Three women living in tents & tree houses at HS2 resistance camps in Buckinghamshire reveal how their ‘normal life’ has been derailed fighting the campaign.

Willow Jones, a 30-year-old mother-of-one and personal fitness instructor with her own business, splits her time living between the HS2 Wendover Active Resistance Camp and her rental property 14 miles away.

The high speed train line route from Birmingham to London impacts around 108 woodlands on route.

Jones said: “I have always been deeply interested in animal welfare, it is something that is hooked in my heart. I am so concerned about animal habitat being destroyed due to HS2.”

CHANGE FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY: Willow Jones, 30 with daughter Miley, 7 and pet poodle Rusty at Wendover Active Resistance Camp

The mapped route cutting through the Chiltern Hills near Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire has faced much opposition due to the impact on an area of ‘outstanding natural beauty’.

Jones explained: “I made the decision in June 2020 to convert from a part-time to full-time protester. I will leave my home and stay full time in a van on site with my daughter Miley, 7 and our poodle Rusty.

“Miley, loves it here. She runs free in the mud and the natural environment. She gets lots of fresh air and exercise. I can home school her and she is learning all the time about the environment.”

However, she acknowledged that her parents are not happy with her decision to live at the camp full time.

FOREVER IN TWO WORLDS: Imogen May, 48 based at Jone’s Hill Wood Protest Camp

She said: “They do not get it, they would prefer Miley to be in formal school but I am a voice for the animals that cannot speak. This campaign is more important than me.”

Imogen May, 48, is a single mother to two daughters and a part-time support worker for a homeless shelter charity.

Known by her protest name ‘Little Wild Boudicca’, May is currently living at Jone’s Hill Wood HS2 protest camp located between Great Missenden and Wendover, following a move from Exeter in July.

She said: “My feet are forever in two worlds, I’m a parent but I need to be here. I’m not scared or frightened I’m doing a job that needs to be done but I miss my 14-year-old daughter Petra and my eldest daughter Lily aged 21 so much.”

May explained she helped to protect a 200-year-old tree named the 7 Sisters Oak, located next to the HS2 compound at Poors Piece Wood, Steeple Claydon, Buckinghamshire.

She said: “It was one of my biggest achievements, seven of us sat under the tree singing songs peacefully but twenty eight police officers were sent to remove us.”

She acknowledged her concerns about the future.

She added: “I have no money, no idea where I will be next and I am uncertain if I can go back to a normal life.”

TENTS: Activists are committed to the cause

Beanie Stones, 19, is a London based student who has taken a gap year to become an HS2 activist.

She divides her time between Jone’s Hill Wood protest camp and her family home in north London where she helps provide care for her vulnerable father.

Known by her protest name ‘Hedgehog’, she is part of group of young people who have opted to delay studies to campaign against the £78bn high speed railway.

She said: “We have a young persons’ group at the protest camp, and it’s an open forum where we can share our feelings. We are so worried about the environment and what HS2 is doing to animal habitat.

“The young people here are scared about facing arrest, we don’t want to go through that. We worry all the time but we see no other way of trying to influence this.”

HS2.org.uk advise the new high speed rail line is critical for the UK’s low carbon transport future, that its ecology work and legal obligations are followed at all times to protect wildlife species.   

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