Steve Hughes is an industrial chemist from Chester. He is also a runner – a serious runner.
Steve organises the Park Run every Saturday morning in the Countess Country Park, where up to a hundred runners of all ages and all abilities take part whether to compete against their own clock or to jog and keep fit.
But it is Steve’s latest venture that is really capturing the attention in Chester.
We have a surprisingly high level of air pollution in Chester. Some parts are the most polluted in the whole borough, much of it caused by traffic pollution.
Steve’s idea it to build supertrees. These are structures supporting trees and plants that are especially good at absorbing the carbon dioxide and other emissions that cars give off.
And his plan is to build them on the roundabout at the top of Hoole Way, just by the Mecca Bingo Hall.
It is an underused area, with pedestrian underpasses and not much else.
The scheme is already well advanced. There has been a public consultation, Steve has secured the backing of the council and support from other funding bodies. Dandy’s Top Soil has been providing sponsorship too.
Steve has brought in Sarah Pegg, one of Chester’s top architects whose previous successes include Bluecoat Primary School and the new St Mary’s Centre in Handbridge. Sarah will be advising on foundations and structural work.
Good For Nothing is also involved. They are a group of professionals who meet once a month in Chester to support local causes for free using their professional talent and experience. They include designers, public relations and communications managers, fundraisers, lawyers and so on.
And Steve has brought Chester Zoo on board too, advising on which plants will be best to make the biggest impact for the environment. Steve only wants to use native species.
Last weekend, Steve ran 100km non-stop as part of a fund raising effort for the supertrees project. I joined him for half an hour on the treadmills but he was still going strong seven hours later.
It is an idea full of imagination from a man who is driven to make the world better and a group of people from right across Chester coming together to support him.
There are plenty of ways to help our environment: cleaner energy generation and better public transport for a start so that we produce fewer emissions. But the supertrees project will reduce pollution, even on a small scale. Who knows, maybe in the future that roundabout will be known as the Supertrees Roundabout.