A nature-inspired refuge from lockdown has won the Cuprinol Shed Of The Year 2020, and the competition’s first ever Special Commendation has gone to a shed school.The Bedouin Tree-Shed has been an eight-year labour of love for expedition organiser Daniel Holloway, who built it around two living tree trunks in his back garden in Blackheath, south London. During lockdown it became a sanctuary for the 55-year-old, his wife Beccy, 51, and their children Sam, 12, and 14-year-old Lyza. “When lockdown arrived, the shed really took on a life of its own, bringing us closer together as a family," said Daniel. "Spending time in it taught us some valuable lessons about appreciating what is precious and provided solace for us all during those really uncertain weeks and months. We whiled away many an hour in there listening to music, playing games and quietly reflecting." The build began life as a conventional garden shed but has been extended and modified to encompass three levels with a footprint of 5m x 5m. Inside are mementoes from Daniel’s travels through Africa and it is built around the trunks of an ash and an oak. “Being in harmony with nature is incredibly important for us as a family,” said Daniel. “We’ve been absolutely committed to avoid impacting the root system of the trees as we’ve been extending the shed. There’s also willow saplings and jasmine on the exterior which makes the shed almost seem part of the landscape when they bloom in the summer.” Alongside the African artefacts, the interior is decorated with vintage etchings and specimens of butterflies alongside finely carved ancient hardwood Indian columns. A wood-burning stove provides comfort during the winter with furniture rescued from skips and reclamation yards. The floor is made of oak planks and follows the contours of the trees inside. The Bedouin Tree-Shed topped the Nature’s Haven category in a public vote before being awarded the overall title from a panel of judges. Daniel will receive £1,000, a plaque and £100 of Cuprinol products. And in a competition first, judges also awarded a Special Commendation (plus £250) to celebrate the efforts teacher Ashley Bates went to in order to educate children while lockdown closed classrooms. Winner of the Lockdown Repurpose category, he streamed maths and English lessons for five to eight-year-olds from his Shed School in his back garden in Hinchley Wood, Surrey. "With so many children potentially missing out on education because of lockdown, I thought I had to do something to help. I was stunned how it took off - going from a few hundred followers to over seven thousand in just a few weeks”. Head Judge and competition founder Andrew 'Uncle Wilco' Wilcox said: “This year we’ve been blown away by the imagination and creativity on display from sheddies up and down the country, during these unprecedented times. “But it was Daniel’s Bedouin Tree-Shed that impressed us most. We were really taken by how sensitively he incorporated nature into the design and the role it played bringing his family closer together during lockdown. We were also wildly impressed by Ashley’s efforts to educate the nation’s kids while coronavirus closed classrooms.”
This year’s entrants competed across nine categories - with two new lockdown-specific categories introduced - Lockdown Repurpose and Lockdown New-build. A public vote through readerssheds.co.uk decided each winner.
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