Ade Andrews on what the Robin Hood legend means today
There is no doubt that Robin Hood holds a fascination for people throughout the world and no-one is more aware of that than Tourism Superstar nominee Ade Andrews, who runs the Robin Hood Town Tour. Here he writes about how the legend still resonates with people today.
Who was Robin Hood? The question, one of history’s great mysteries, still causes much debate, yet it is only a small part of the bigger picture. What is the meaning of Robin Hood in the 21st Century, I believe, is a more relevant question.
The pursuit of England’s folklore son brought me to Nottingham in 1993. Armed with a history degree and a background in re-enactment, I took to the streets as the outlaw and in 1995, the tourist attraction ‘The Tales of Robin Hood’ beckoned. Spending a decade hosting banquets, eating, drinking and making merry with the public was great fun but ultimately the answers did not lie there.
In 2005 I secured the role as the Heritage Ranger for Sherwood Forest. My vision was to rally the community spirit and empower groups to organise traditional annual celebrations like the customs of old. Such inclusive, inter-generational projects across the community foster social cohesion, rekindle people’s relationship with the land and enable people to put down roots.
One of the success stories was the Edwinstowe May Day which ran from 2008 until 2011.The May Queen and attendants were chosen from a school writing competition. They led a procession of hundreds of locals, Robin Hood and his Merry Outlaws and a community-made Jack-in-the-Green from the village to Sherwood Forest. Traditional games and entertainment like maypole dancing at the Major Oak took place, as the people of ‘Robin Hood’s Village’ welcomed the return of the summer sun.
Meanwhile, in nearby Ollerton, the St George’s Day celebrations have also captured the imaginations of people living in the town and beyond. In 2011, nine schools, hundreds of school children and 25 community groups worked together to create a fun family event attended by 3,000 people. Folks watched as 83-year-old local gent Brian Smith, dressed as St George, slayed a huge community-made dragon. Families of Ollerton flew the banner of England that day and set an example for the rest of the country to follow.
Back in 2009, Robin Hood went to a tree planting ceremony organised by Nottinghamshire County Council at Sherwood Pines and invited the then Sheriff of Nottingham, Leon Unczur to attend along with his choice of two city schools. Old age adversaries joining forces to save a national treasure created the media circus desired as around 60 children planted saplings from the veteran oak trees to help restore Sherwood Forest. From small acorns mighty oaks grow.
Robin Hood is a reflection of man’s relationship to the land and he is symbolic of the community spirit of the people. From the local to the global, these concepts have world wide appeal. The ethos and the aesthetics of our legend are now being offered to the people of the world through the Robin Hood Town Tour. Folks can jump on board a tour which celebrates a colourful and vibrant 21st Century city.
It is in this endeavour of rallying the global community spirit and in education and inspiration on the streets of Nottingham, that the spirit of Robin Hood lies. This is what Robin Hood means to the world today.
Ade is one of just 10 finalists from around the country who has been nominated for the Visit England Tourism Superstar and you have until 21st March to show your support for England’s best-loved folk hero. Visit www.mirror.co.uk/tourismsuperstar and choose Ade Andrews. Join in the conversation on Twitter and Facebooks with the hashtags #voterobin or #tourismsuperstar.