Thu, 16 Apr 2020
A FAMILY’S display of support and small message of positivity started during the coronavirus lockdown has spread from one road to other communities.
Joining Together began as a way to entertain Karen and Philip de Monte’s daughter Lindsay during the lockdown.
The family had placed a banner at their home in Lower Way, Thatcham, but Mrs de Monte said that the weather had got the better of it.
Wanting to replace their banner of support, Mrs de Monte said: “We love doing arts and crafts and obviously this is the ideal opportunity.
“We had some old boxes in the garage that she had been playing with.
“We looked to replace [the banner] because it seemed to brighten people’s day.”
The family made cutouts of themselves and tied them to the fence along the edge of the Nature Discovery Centre.
“With the cutouts was the message ‘we will fight this together’.”
A friend saw the family’s “beautiful” work and asked if they could add to it.
The idea has taken off on social media, with cutouts springing up across Newbury and Thatcham.
More than 80 cutouts and messages now adorn the fence since the inspiring artwork was created last week.
Mrs de Monte said: “At the time I didn’t think about anyone adding on to it.
“It looked nice, it was nice and cheery and we need more positive messages at the moment.
“This is actually a nice thing to focus on.
“Although it’s very simple – often simple things are the best.
“Children can get involved because the poor children are climbing the walls and getting bored.
“You don’t have to go out of your way to make them.”
A Facebook page called Joining Together has been set up to promote the idea.
More than 1,000 people joined the group within three days, with lots asking to set up their own cutout installation.
Mrs de Monte said that the group was to help “get the message out there that we are all in this together and to try and stay positive".
She said: “Let’s focus on something nice rather than all the doom and gloom. Let’s come together as a community.
“The response has been overwhelming”.
She encouraged people to add to the display on Lower Way, provided it was within walking distance and for people to not drive especially to add their art.
“If not in walking distance start up your own, share photos and the get the message out,” she said.
“It’s entirely up to the individual, it’s just about sending out positive messages.”
But to those who can contribute Mrs de Monte said: “Come along and please feel free, it’s going to brighten up that fence if anything.
“We have so many people walking along Lower Way for exercise as it’s a nice route.
“If it just makes one person smile, fantastic.
“We’ve had lots of people taking pictures, which is really nice.”
Ambulance crews and police officers have stopped to take pictures of the display, which have been shared on social media.
Mrs de Monte said other displays were springing up along the A4 in Thatcham and Newbury.
She added that family and friends in Fareham and Bath were also looking to start up their own.
Parsons Down Partnership of schools, where 10-year-old daughter Lindsay attends, has also set up its own display for children of key workers still at school.
Mrs de Monte said: “The support has been huge.
“People have just taken the idea and just run with it, which has been fantastic.
“We’re very proud of our community who have made such an effort and come together.
“It’s special, really special.”
Speaking of Lindsay’s response to the display and its huge reaction online, Mrs de Monte said: “She loves it. She’s very proud of it.
“We look out the window each day and she’s like ‘wow we started that’.”
When asked whether there was a goal for the display, she said: “As far as we can get really.
“It would be amazing if it went all the way down the fence, but it’s a long fence but whatever people can do.”
Find out more at the Joining Together Facebook page.