Eco-hero Steve Hughes is in the middle of running seven marathons in seven days in seven countries to raise cash towards a Chester environmental project inspired by the supertrees of Singapore.
Steve, 26, from Boughton, would love the centre of the Mecca bingo roundabout to be transformed from grot-spot to wildlife haven as well as being a pleasant place to sit and relax.
The idea is to install three 7m-high supertrees – tree-shaped metal structures that would be home to climbing plants and attract birds and bugs.
It would be similar in concept but much smaller in scale to the 50m-high spectacular supertrees of Singapore which feature walkways and cafes.
Steve, who has held early discussions with Cheshire West and Chester Council, says the £7,000 project would combat city centre air pollution but accepts there is a carbon footprint associated with manufacturing the trees.
“It would be symbolic of Chester’s commitment to environmentalism,” said Steve, who began his 183.5 mile endurance challenge on Sunday, the equivalent of running to London.
A keen runner, he is following his own unofficial marathon routes in Edinburgh, Belfast, Amsterdam in Holland, Munich in Germany, Innsbruck in Austria, Bangor in North Wales with the final stretch in his home city of Chester this Saturday (July 15).
Steve explained: “I was looking for a physical challenge for myself and because I’m an environmentalist, I wanted to get behind an environmental and community project here in Chester.”
Steve understands the council already has ambitions to regenerate the roundabout and subways which are next to the new Chester Bus Interchange and improved public realm.
He has been in talks with deputy council leader Cllr Louise Gittins, cabinet member for communities and wellbeing, to explore the idea of installing supertrees as part of any revamp but realises there would need to be a public consultation.
He is supported by Cllr Matt Bryan, known for his environmental activism, and Chester MP Chris Matheson. And he has approached Sanctuary Housing, who own the Newtown tower blocks, about possible sponsorship.
Steve, who works as a chemist at Itaconix on Deeside Industrial Estate, hopes to raise £3,500 through his own efforts and says his company has agreed to match fund him.
And the environmentalist, who has run marathons before, has been in training since the beginning of the year so hopes he will be OK. “I’ve run a marathon or two before but nothing like this!” he said.
The supertrees would incorporate solar panels and light up at night. There could be carbon monitors and weather stations on the site, which is already planted out with bushes and trees that would remain. And there are plans for artwork such as wall murals created by the community.
Other organisations involved include Chester Zoo who have agreed to carry out a biodiversity survey to measure the difference in flora and fauna before and after the supertrees are installed.
This Saturday Steve is scheduled to complete his Chester Marathon outside Storyhouse at 2pm with supporters welcome to join him and help collect money in buckets. Later that day, from 7pm, there will be a fund-raising party at Hoole Community Centre in Westminster Road with a bar, food and bands. Everybody is welcome.
Steve, who is involved with Chester Roadrunners, Chester Rotary and is a director of Chester parkrun, is confident the project will happen. “I don’t think it’s a case of whether the project will happen, it’s a case of when.”
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