Evening Echo
December 5, 2005

The littlest boho

  • Play time - Aaron and mum Christiana Tugwell enjoy their time on Camp Bling
  • Why Aaron's parents feel it is right to bring up baby on a protest camp

  • MANY people would be horrified at the idea of bringing up a baby on an eco-warrior's protest camp.

    Camp Bling in Priory Crescent has no electricity, no central heating and could soon be under thread from bulldozers.

    But baby Aaron's parents Christiana and Owen believe their son is better off living there than almost anywhere else.

    Christiana Tugwell, 21, said: "This is a very child-friendly place. A lot of people bring their children down.

    "Since living here, he has made a huge number of friends and acquaintences. The adults here treat him like a person who just can't talk yet.

    "It's like a big extended family. I feel that communities are very important and by coming here, I think we have done him a favour."

    Owen, 31, said: "I think he is getting a better upbringing here than a lot of other people.

    "My work also means that I can be here with Aaron and help look after him."

    Christiana was a child herself when she set up her first protest camp in Hockley, aged 15.

  • Protest - Camp Bling, on the site of the Saxon King's tomb
  • It was there she met Owen, a self-employed gardener. Soon afterwards, the two became a couple, and it was while she was on another protest near Sherwood Forest that she became pregnant.

    She left the camp when eviction became certain, moving back to her mother's home in Hockley, and giving birth to Aaron 14 months ago.

    But when Camp Bling was set [up] in September, she wanted to join the protest.

    Christiana, Owen and Aaron claim they have a relatively normal life on the camp.

    Owen is the first to get up, lighting the wood burner so that their hut is warm by the time Christiana and Aaron wake up.

    After breakfast in the commmunal building, Aaron plays with Christiana before having a mid-morning nap.

    While he is asleep, his mum will usually crack on with studying for her Open University degree in health studies - which she hopes to use to pursue a career in social work.

    In the afternoon, Aaron might be cared for by Christiana, Owen or other trusted adults on the camp. He plays in Priory Park and is often visited by other children.

    One of the only things he misses out on is children's TV, which unless you are a die-hard Tweenies fan is no great loss.

    Instead, he is helping to protect Southend's heritage.

    Christiana said: "People need to know about their local heritage, and to be proud of it.

    "We are living here because although Aaron and I will leave before the bulldozers come, I can put energy into the site and support people who are doing that.

    "I want Aaron to be proud of where he comes from."

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