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Terminally ill mum creates family totem pole to inspire others

Pic by Michael Scott/Caters News 

A terminally ill mum has transformed a tree outside her home into a 13ft wooden totem pole to stand as a legacy to her family.

Liz Welch, 57, who has stage four breast cancer, came up with the idea of turning the Lebanese cedar tree into a piece of art with her husband when it was due to be pulled down after it became hazardous.

She recruited a specialist chainsaw sculptor to craft the incredible work of art which includes the family’s faces and other important things in their life.

And it is crowned with a striking hummingbird which was the motif for her former jewellery firm.

Liz from Radcliffe on Trent, Notts, said: It is not a memorial but a celebration of our life.

“It was the safest thing to cut down the tree but we wanted something to be left behind.

“My husband and I came up with the idea and that it would be inspirational for not just us and our family but the village.

Pic by Michael Scott/Caters News 

“We needed to do it right now as we don’t know what the future holds.

“It’s so uplifting to see it finally completed – a dedication to all of us.

“The incredible result has helped all of us and it’s nice to see it there because we never thought it would be completed.”

The family were forced into the decision after tree’s branches were falling onto the road and the roots were causing chaos with their houses’ foundations

They were advised the tree should be cut down but since it had been there since moving in 20 years ago, the couple could not bear to see it go.

Liz searched the internet to find the right artist for the job and came across local chainsaw sculptor Mick Burns.

Having never been commissioned for a job like this before, Mick took some persuading, but eventually took on the task of tackling the 65 foot tree down into the family totem pole half its original size.

Pic from Caters News 

A former jewellery maker, Liz, drew pictures of all her families member including husband, Neil, her two sons, Ian and Tom, and both sets of grandparents onto A2 pieces of paper so Mick could recreate their faces in the wooden sculpture.

It took four days for Mick to complete the pole which includes motifs to represent each member of the family, a hockey stick for her son, flowers for her parents, who were keen gardeners, as well as the family dog, Poppy.

The pole was then scorched which involves burning the outer layer with a blowtorch to preserve the wood.

Liz was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer in 2014 but was given the news it had developed to stage four, in April.

She said: “I’m currently having chemotherapy but it is terminal, there just not sure when.

“Having this sculpture made has been so uplifting and is a dedication to our family as a whole and what we’ve been through.”

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