Islip tribute to local heroes

The community of Islip, Oxfordshire, have found a way of keeping spirits high throughout the third national lockdown. Their moving handmade tributes are brightening up the village and showing their gratitude to local key workers.

A repurposed nativity

Like many villages, Islip brought the Christmas story out from the church building’s walls last year. Their handcrafted outdoor nativity scene proved a great way of sharing God’s love safely in the pandemic. Their nativity characters journeyed around the village on their way to the stable in an immersive community experience.

The tribute was such a hit, Reverend Lucy Thirtle was determined to find ways to keep lighting up the gloom of the pandemic.

“People loved it so much that I tried to think what we could do to continue giving people things to smile about and I came up with the idea of repurposing the frames for the community heroes. The idea has taken off in a way I couldn’t have imagined.”

A handmade model of a refuse collecter

Community heroes

The nativity models have now been repurposed to create a moving tribute to community heroes. They depict the key workers leaving their homes every day to look after and provide for others.

With the first figures appearing in early January, the idea has since snowballed. Villagers continue to add new figures almost every day. It is a community-wide effort, with local schools, shops and the council all contributing to the efforts.

Handmade model of a nurse holding a baby
A lovely addition to the village

The project has provided the village with some light-hearted drama. New figures appear mysteriously overnight like Banksy paintings, and the occasional figure has even gone walkabout through the village. People’s daily walks are now a chance to admire the craftmanship of their neighbours and to share their gratitude. One villager said;

“The people are a lovely addition to the village and has helped get my six-year-old out in cold and dreary days to see who has arrived!”

With an ever-growing number of models paying tribute to everyone from teachers, vets, shop workers, postmen, vets, refuse collectors and more, Islip’s display has given the village something to smile about.

If you have an inspiring story from lockdown, we would love to hear it! Get in touch at communications@oxford.anglican.org.