Lockdown walks brightened by key worker scarecrows in English village


CAPEL, England (Reuters) – The daily lockdown walk has been brightened by the addition of scarecrows dressed as key workers in a village in southern England, as the community pays tribute to doctors, nurses, shop assistants and waste collectors in its own quirky way.

About 30 of the adult-sized stuffed dolls, complete with wigs and face masks, stethoscopes and surgical gloves, are propped up in front gardens in the village of Capel, at the foot of the Surrey Hills, about 30 miles south of London.

“We needed to cheer up the village and get people to have a laugh as they went around on their daily exercise,” said Sally Wyborn, who instigated the idea of the scarecrows.

Many of the unsung heroes of the coronavirus pandemic such as policeman and postmen, farmers, rubbish collectors and supermarket workers, are represented by the scarecrows, as well as doctors and nurses.

The idea of giant dolls was not new to the villagers of Capel. They used to make them every June to advertise a fete and open gardens, but had not done so for nine years following the death of Wyborn’s husband.

After Britain went into lockdown on March 23, however, putting a stop to social interactions with people told to stay at home apart from a few exceptions including a one-hour daily outing for exercise, Wyborn had an idea.

“In one of my mad moments, I suddenly thought why don’t we resurrect the scarecrows, everybody’s got time to make them,” the 78-year-old told Reuters.

Word was put out on email and social media and through local clubs for children, and the horticultural society for adults, and scarecrows soon lined the main street and side roads.

They will be there for the foreseeable future as Britons have no clarity on how and when the lockdown will be eased.

“Until it’s all over. Leave them out until we come out of lockdown and then watch the party,” Wyborn said.

Reporting by Sarah Young, editing by Ed Osmond