Drayton & Taverham

Taverham treehouse comes out on top!

Just Regional
Sep 6, 2016 6 mins read

Not many people can say that adventurer Steve Backshall has climbed their treehouse, but that’s exactly what’s happened after the Jennings family from Taverham won the coveted title of UK’s Top Treehouse!

Launched to celebrate the arrival of four new treehouses at Center Parcs, Elveden Forest, the contest saw fierce competition from entries across the UK. Coming out on top was the Jennings’ ‘The Faraway Treehouse’, which won the hearts of the judging panel.

The winning treehouse was a joint project between dad Matthew and his six-year-old daughter Ruby, with mum Becki acting as assistant. It was dreamt up when Ruby thought she saw a fairy down at the bottom of their garden after reading the fantastical Enid Blyton series, ‘The Faraway Tree’, with her parents at bed times. She became so captivated by the tale, her dad Matthew, an architectural technologist, began to collect recycled wood from the local area to create Ruby’s very own magical treehouse at their home on Sylvan Way.

What followed was two months of busy weekends, where Ruby – complete with her own hard hat and tools – and her father worked to build the treehouse that had only previously existed in Ruby’s imagination.

A shortlist of 10 was revealed earlier this summer, including treetop creations complete with double-length slides and climbing frames as well as family-made structures that has been passed down multiple generations. However, the judging panel, comprised of Backshall, CEO of Center Parcs Martin Dalby, and Center Parcs’ chief treehouse builder Tom Courtney, were blown away by the imagination behind ‘The Faraway Treehouse’, the teamwork involved and the ongoing commitment to improving and evolving the treehouse as a space that the entire family can enjoy.

One such example of this is on the morning Ruby turned five, she visited the treehouse as normal to find a new addition – a new little blue wooden door, steps and windows at the base of the tree, for her favourite character ‘Moonface’ to live in. Since then Ruby has played in her treehouse through all seasons and all weather, eating her meals in there, birdwatching and imagining her own adventures.

Matthew Jennings said: “We are so excited to have won the Center Parcs UK’s Top Treehouse title. Ruby and I spent almost every weekend for three months working tirelessly to build something that matched her creativity and we’re so proud of what we have made.

“Ruby is ecstatic that her treehouse has been chosen, and as a family we can’t wait to visit a Center Parcs Treehouse.

“Not only does ‘The Faraway Treehouse’ give us so much joy as a family, it just shows that a small budget and quality time spent together can really turn into something special. This is just the beginning, if I have my way we will keep adding to the garden for years to come.”

Steve Backshall visited the family at the beginning of September and was given a guided tour by Ruby.

“I’ve loved seeing all the entries flood in from around the country and it was really tough deciding on a winner as there was such an array of structures submitted,” said Steve. “As a judge the number one thing I was looking for was a project that involved the whole family. With The Faraway Treehouse you can see the input and creativity from the whole family, particularly Ruby who clearly has a passion for fairies.

“I think one of the coolest things about it is the little touches from fairy doors and windows, to a ships bell to announce your arrival and the signs that invite you in – it’s simply a place that is meant to make your imagination run wild. It’s not just a building, this treehouse tells a tale and in my opinion, any place that can do that is really very special.”

CEO of Center Parcs Martin Dalby said: “The quality of ‘The Faraway Treehouse’ was absolutely fantastic and it was great to see the Jennings family spending time together building and decorating it. The story behind this particular treehouse really tied into one of the key Center Parcs focuses – spending time as a family – and we were really taken by the story of the build and Ruby’s imagination.”

Tom Courtney, Center Parcs chief treehouse builder added: “I was particularly impressed with the small touches in ‘The Faraway Treehouse’ – from the recycled wood materials, decorations, planting and other little touches such as the blue wooden door. A lot of love has gone into it and there is still time for Ruby to be her own treehouse builder as she now has the coveted UK Top Treehouse title!”

Adventurer Steve Backshall (right) unveils ÔThe Faraway TreehouseÕ in Norwich as the winner of the UKÕs Top Treehouse competition held by Center Parcs, which was built by the JenningsÕ family (left to right) dad Matthew, six-year-old Ruby, and mum Becki. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Tuesday September 6, 2016. Center Parcs launched the competition to celebrate the arrival of four new treehouses at the Elveden Forest site. Photo credit should read: Doug Peters/PA Wire

Adventurer Steve Backshall (right) unveils ÔThe Faraway TreehouseÕ in Norwich as the winner of the UKÕs Top Treehouse competition held by Center Parcs, which was built by the JenningsÕ family (left to right) dad Matthew, six-year-old Ruby, and mum Becki. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Tuesday September 6, 2016. Center Parcs launched the competition to celebrate the arrival of four new treehouses at the Elveden Forest site. Photo credit should read: Doug Peters/PA Wire

Adventurer Steve Backshall (right) unveils ÔThe Faraway TreehouseÕ in Norwich as the winner of the UKÕs Top Treehouse competition held by Center Parcs, which was built by six-year-old Ruby Jennings (left) and her parents Matthew and Becki. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Tuesday September 6, 2016. Center Parcs launched the competition to celebrate the arrival of four new treehouses at the Elveden Forest site. Photo credit should read: Doug Peters/PA Wire

Adventurer Steve Backshall (right) unveils ÔThe Faraway TreehouseÕ in Norwich as the winner of the UKÕs Top Treehouse competition held by Center Parcs, which was built by six-year-old Ruby Jennings (left) and her parents Matthew and Becki. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Tuesday September 6, 2016. Center Parcs launched the competition to celebrate the arrival of four new treehouses at the Elveden Forest site. Photo credit should read: Doug Peters/PA Wire

Adventurer Steve Backshall (right) unveils ÔThe Faraway TreehouseÕ in Norwich as the winner of the UKÕs Top Treehouse competition held by Center Parcs, which was built by six-year-old Ruby Jennings (left) and her parents Matthew and Becki. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Tuesday September 6, 2016. Center Parcs launched the competition to celebrate the arrival of four new treehouses at the Elveden Forest site. Photo credit should read: Doug Peters/PA Wire

Adventurer Steve Backshall (right) unveils ÔThe Faraway TreehouseÕ in Norwich as the winner of the UKÕs Top Treehouse competition held by Center Parcs, which was built by six-year-old Ruby Jennings (left) and her parents Matthew and Becki. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Tuesday September 6, 2016. Center Parcs launched the competition to celebrate the arrival of four new treehouses at the Elveden Forest site. Photo credit should read: Doug Peters/PA Wire

Adventurer Steve Backshall (right) unveils ÔThe Faraway TreehouseÕ in Norwich as the winner of the UKÕs Top Treehouse competition held by Center Parcs, which was built by six-year-old Ruby Jennings (left) and her parents Matthew and Becki. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Tuesday September 6, 2016. Center Parcs launched the competition to celebrate the arrival of four new treehouses at the Elveden Forest site. Photo credit should read: Doug Peters/PA Wire

Adventurer Steve Backshall (right) unveils ÔThe Faraway TreehouseÕ in Norwich as the winner of the UKÕs Top Treehouse competition held by Center Parcs, which was built by six-year-old Ruby Jennings (left) and her parents Matthew and Becki. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Tuesday September 6, 2016. Center Parcs launched the competition to celebrate the arrival of four new treehouses at the Elveden Forest site. Photo credit should read: Doug Peters/PA Wire

ÔThe Faraway TreehouseÕ in Norwich is unveils as the winner of the UKÕs Top Treehouse competition held by Center Parcs, which was built by the JenningsÕ family dad Matthew, six-year-old Ruby, and mum Becki. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Tuesday September 6, 2016. Center Parcs launched the competition to celebrate the arrival of four new treehouses at the Elveden Forest site. Photo credit should read: Doug Peters/PA Wire

ÔThe Faraway TreehouseÕ in Norwich is unveils as the winner of the UKÕs Top Treehouse competition held by Center Parcs, which was built by the JenningsÕ family dad Matthew, six-year-old Ruby, and mum Becki. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Tuesday September 6, 2016. Center Parcs launched the competition to celebrate the arrival of four new treehouses at the Elveden Forest site. Photo credit should read: Doug Peters/PA Wire

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