Winston Howes was 53 years-old when he lost his wife of 33 years, Janet Howes, to heart failure in 1995. It was back in 1962 when Janet and Winston got married and moved to a farmhouse in nearby Stroud, a market town in South Gloucestershire, England. A few years later, the pair had their first son. But after 33 years of marriage, Janet passed away suddenly due to heart failure.
Now, more than two decades later, a touching and heartwarming tribute created by Winston Howes to commemorate his wife was revealed by a hot air balloonist. The husband created an acre-long heart in the middle of a six-acre field with the point directed at his wife’s childhood home. Winston, who now owns a 112-acre farm according to the Daily Mail UK, said that he created the memorial in the months after his wife’s death.
The farmer explained how he used wood from small oak trees next to his farmhouse to create the heart. In an interview with the Daily Mail UK, Winston said, ‘We got people in especially to do it—there are several thousand trees. We planted large oak trees around the edge of the heart then decided to put a hedge around it too. The heart points towards Wotton Hill, where Janet is from.’ What initially began as a small forest has now blossomed into a beautiful meadow, 33 years in the making.
‘I came up with the idea of creating a heart in the clearing of the field after Janet died. I thought it was a great idea – it was a flash of inspiration – and I planted several thousand oak trees. Once it was completed we put a seat in the field, overlooking the hill near where she used to live,’ the devoted husband told the Daily Mail. ‘I sometimes go down there, just to sit and think about things. It is a lovely and lasting tribute to her which will be here for years.’
The entrance into the heart can only be found via a secret entrance leading to the point and the 76-year-old has revealed that he and his son have kept this loving tribute a secret all these years. The meadow cannot be seen from the road and it wasn’t until avid hot-air balloonist Andy Collett brought attention to the tribute by noticing it.
In an interview with the Daily Mail UK, the 48 year-old hot air balloonist from Wotton-Under-Edge in Gloucestershire, England, said: ‘I have my own balloon and am quite a regular flyer – but this was the most amazing sight I have ever seen from the sky. It was a perfect heart hidden away from view – you would not know it was there. You can just imagine the love story.’
While Andy and Winston have never met, Andy is spot on in regards to the origin of the heart. ‘We plant daffodils in the middle that come up in the spring – it looks great. I go out there from time to time and sit in the seat I created,’ shared Winston. ‘I also flew over it myself about five years ago.’