Reuben's Forest School: Tribute to Nature's Wonder

by Tom Yates in Glastonbury, England, United Kingdom

Reuben's Forest School: Tribute to Nature's Wonder

Total raised £1,699

raised so far

41

supporters

Create Reuben Forest School, fostering nature love, unity, and healing for families, in memory of our beloved Reuben. 🌿 #ReubenForestSchool

by Tom Yates in Glastonbury, England, United Kingdom

In loving memory of our precious son, Reuben, who touched many lives in his beautiful one-year journey, we are establishing the Reuben Forest School to honor his memory in a way that reflects his love for nature and learning.


A little over a year ago, Antonia and I became parents for the first time. Cuddling our precious baby boy in our arms, we danced and sang, watching his smile grow larger with each passing day. His kindness and boundless sense of fun filled the hearts of everyone around us with eager anticipation for the adventures that awaited us.

But then, abruptly, just a few days after his first birthday, our beloved Reuben departed from this world.

Ever since, life has not made any sense. We don’t know where our Son is and we can’t help but keep looking for him everywhere we go, perpetually scanning every passing pram, searching every treetop, and scrutinizing every room, hoping to catch a glimpse of him. 

Though we can no longer hold our dear baby boy, his memory shines brighter every day, a constant smile in our hearts, quietly ensuring our well-being. Yet, this time is filled with profound longing, and mornings often bring a daunting fear as we awaken to the stark reality that we can no longer cuddle or sing with our cherished Reuben.


The Reuben Forest School

In an age dominated by technology and urbanization, the Reuben Forest School stands as a heartfelt sanctuary where children can rediscover the wonders of nature. While children may naturally appreciate the outdoors, the constant allure of screens and city life can sometimes overshadow this innate connection. Encouraging them to immerse themselves in the wonders of plants, water, art, music, and sustainable living helps rekindle their love for the natural world.

It takes a village to raise a child
This saying is at the heart of our vision. The Reuben Forest School is not just an educational institution; it's a living tribute that nurtures a sense of togetherness among families – just as Reuben's presence brought us all closer.

1695390406_screenshot_2023-09-22_at_14.46.07.pngHere, the teacher evolves into a guide, someone who supports and facilitates each child's unique exploration of the natural world, mirroring Reuben's adventurous and independent nature. We empower children to ask questions, seek answers, and develop a deep understanding of the environment through hands-on experiences, celebrating Reuben's curiosity and love for learning.

Supportive Community - The forest school helps address the intense feelings of isolation following the pandemic. For single parents, the journey of raising a child can be especially challenging, and the school offers them a supportive community – a place where they can connect with other parents who understand their struggles, echoing Reuben's friendly and inclusive spirit.

Healing and Bonding:

As families emerge from social distancing and isolation, the Reuben Forest School becomes a place where both children and parents can rebuild social connections, share their stories, and heal from the emotional toll of the pandemic. It serves as a haven for families to overcome the sense of isolation and come together, strengthening their bonds, nurturing a profound love for nature that Reuben embodied, all while honoring his memory and the values he shared with us.

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Our baby boy

Reuben is the greatest joy of our lives. He’s all the lovely words you can imagine but some of them stand out.

Brave - Reuben moved towards any challenge confidently with a little glance to us as if to say, “Are you watching? Let’s do this together!”. So motivated to grow and try things again and again, as he became more confident.

Joyous - Waking up in the morning we’d hear him singing his songs waiting in the cot in his bedroom, greeting the day and everyone he was yet to see, bouncing to get out into the open and explore the world - the park to play on the climbing frame and swings, a walk through the trees, a good crawl around on a field, or into town to see his friends old and new.



1694992649_img_2188.jpgFriendly - Everyone Reuben met quickly became his friend. In the pram he’d lean out, reaching towards whatever was next. In public spaces he’d turn to face strangers as friends he’d known long ago, reunited at last. From his pram he would point, smile and connect with people.

We would barely notice who he was befriending until they'd come up to us and say, "Your baby is very friendly, he has been smiling at me for the last 20 minutes!" These surprise moments really made us so proud of who he is.

I wish I could express how proud it made me to watch him effortlessly making friends with every generation, giving a wave, a hello, a cheeky smile, or a piece of his food.

Independent - One of the last times we spent just father and son was eating breakfast one morning in a cafe. He sat opposite me in his high chair and began scooping everything off the plate into his mouth, sometimes with his spoon or fingers.

Any worry I had at how messy it was completely overcome by him enjoying his independence, eating calmly and at his own pace. He always offered us his food to share, however much there was. He knew what food was good for him and would pick out any bits of processed food he didn't want. Always up for trying new things and making it known that he loves his food hearing him purr and say "mmmm" whilst enjoying his food. But then also coming out with his words and saying "iz good."

1694992565_20230823_185017.jpgFun - I started carrying him on my shoulders when he was around 6 months old, walking through the woods near Wells with mummy, foraging for wild garlic. I felt so close to him carrying him like this and he loved being up in the air, free from a harness or pram.

He would play drum on my head and sometimes reach around to giggle in my ear, or tug them to steer which way we walked. I trusted Reuben with my life and he trusted me - wherever we were he had an innate sense of where the fun was at, and steered us both headfirst towards it.



Funny - He started laughing very early on and making each other laugh quickly became our favourite thing to do. Singing made-up songs, tickling each other, or playing peek-a-boo with curtains, the edges of his pram, or sat on the floor swinging the door from side-to-side, filled us with hours of laughter. He would wiggle around with a great cheeky grin and giggle at the squeaky tickle sounds we would make.

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Adventurous - When we’d arrive somewhere in the van, he’d crawl out of his car-seat, stand on my lap firmly gripping the steering wheel, moving the gearstick and flicking the indicators, bouncing and staring out through the window, ready for our next adventure.

Reuben strived to crawl and go ahead towards the great unknown, wild world. He was so curious and willing to explore, to see something new to play with and also playing chase with Mummy. Continuous crawling away with mummy having to go out and bring him back every other minute, and he would not stop wanting to explore. So excited by his experiences and loving the feeling of freedom.

Musical - Music is cherished in our family. The immense joy I felt as I watched Reuben discover keyboard for the first time; twiddling the controls, changing the sounds, wiggling his bum and singing along… I truly hope that every person gets to feel happiness like that at some point, and I will never forget it. 

I couldn’t believe how quickly he picked up finger-picking on guitar, or standing up to bounce a full-size basketball… and yes, these milestones made me a proud father, but it’s the kind-hearted openness he showed to others that touched me the most.

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Reuben’s Mum, Antonia1694992497_20230505_173041.jpg

Antonia is the best mum anyone could wish for. Her determination led us to a cozy home in Glastonbury where Reuben could grow and thrive. She decorated his room with care, choosing soft blankets and cuddly toys that provided comfort and security.

Her green thumb turned our garden into a flowering oasis, a playground for Reuben's curiosity about the natural world. Antonia would gently guide his little hands as they touched the petals of blooming flowers, introducing him to the wonders of the outdoors.

Antonia's love for music and art filled our home with enchantment. She would tune the radio, strum her guitar, or play her keyboard, and Reuben's eyes would light up as he listened. Then he would pickup the guitar and join in.

Bedtime stories became an adventure with our animated storytelling, character voices, sparking Reuben's imagination and sending him into sweet dreams.

She'd turn nappy changes into playful games, making funny faces and sounds to those adorable baby giggles, turning what could be a mundane task into moments of shared glee. 

The nutritious and wholesome meals she prepared for him help him grow big and strong, which many of our friends kindly acknowledged. She took immense joy and pride in introducing him to the world! She always treated him with respect and never underestimated his worth. To us, he is not only our guardian protector but also our dearest companion.

But what truly makes Antonia the best mum anyone could ask for are the countless little things she does every day: soothing lullabies, soothing cuddles, and tender moments that only a mother knows how to provide. Her endless patience, boundless love, and the way she cherishes every giggle, every tiny step, and every milestone, no matter how small, make her an extraordinary mother. She's our rock, our source of comfort, and the reason Reuben's first year was filled with the magic of a mother's love.

Reuben's friends

1694993396_screenshot_2023-09-18_at_00.01.13.pngOur parents, close friends, aunts, uncles and cousins became Reuben’s playmates and helped him to trust those around him, celebrating his milestones as if they were their own.

We couldn’t be more grateful for their ongoing support.

Reuben continues to teach us gratitude for every moment we're reminded of him, that nothing can disturb the happiness he brought to our family, friends, and people we had never met before, in his one year on earth.

Reuben touched so many lives in Glastonbury, his hometown, and the many places we visited together.
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This has been the most difficult week of our lives, with many of us experiencing grief. And we are not alone. Reuben brought us all closer and now he wants us all to be happy and have fun, talking to him and keeping those memories of him alive.

What's next?

Our Vision: We aim to create a memorial forest school dedicated to Reuben's memory. This forest school will be a place where children can connect with nature, learn about the environment, and experience the wonder of the great outdoors, just as Reuben would have loved to do.

Why a Memorial Forest School? Reuben had an innate curiosity and a profound connection with nature. We believe that a forest school is the perfect way to keep his spirit alive and share his love for the natural world with other children.

What We Need: To bring this vision to life, we need your support. The funds raised through this campaign will be used to acquire and develop the land for the forest school, create educational facilities, and maintain the natural beauty of the area.


How You Can Help

Donate: Your generous contributions will make a lasting impact and help us create a beautiful memorial for Reuben.

Share: Please share this campaign with your friends, family, and social networks to help us reach as many people as possible.

Spread the Word: Share your memories of Reuben, and let's celebrate his life together.

Every Contribution Matters: No donation is too small, and every contribution brings us closer to realizing this heartfelt project that will keep Reuben's memory alive for generations to come.

How your funds will be used

🌳 Land Acquisition (£52,000):

  •  A significant portion of the funds will go towards acquiring suitable land for the forest school. This is the foundation of the project and allows us to create a safe and engaging outdoor learning environment.

🏡 Infrastructure Development (£14,000):

  • Construction of outdoor classrooms and shelters: £10,000
  • Installation of eco-friendly restroom facilities: £4,000

📚 Educational Equipment and Supplies (£10,000):

  • Purchase of outdoor educational materials: £7,000
  • Acquisition of outdoor gear and tools: £3,000

📝 Regulatory and Licensing Fees (£2,000):

  • Permit and licensing fees: £2,000

🏡 Utilities and Maintenance (£3,000):

  • Annual utilities (water, electricity, etc.): £2,000
  • Routine maintenance: £1,000

🛡️ Insurance (£1,000):

  • Annual liability insurance premiums: £1,000

📣 Marketing and Outreach (£1,000):

  • Marketing materials and campaigns: £750
  • Community outreach events and activities: £250

💡 Contingency Fund (£2,000):

  • Sometimes, unexpected opportunities or challenges arise. This fund keeps us agile.

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Thank You

We are deeply grateful for your love, support, and kindness during this difficult time. Your generosity will help create a lasting tribute to our beloved Reuben, allowing his spirit to continue to touch the lives of many.

We appreciate your support as we embark on this meaningful journey. Thank you for helping us honor Reuben's memory in such a special way.

With heartfelt thanks,

Tom and Antonia 💜

✉️ [email protected]
📞 07599 034662

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