Spike rallies to the little people

If you believe in fairies, then clapping your hands is not enough. Spike Milligan, playing fairy godmother instead of Goon, wants you to write a cheque.

He is seeking pounds 100,000 to save the Elfin Oak, a 600-year-old tree carved with fairy figures in Kensington Gardens, central London. Millionaire Paul Getty and pop star Paul McCartney have already signed up.

The little people and animal friends were carved in the oak by Cornish sculptor Ivor Innes in 1911 when the tree was in Richmond Park. Since itsmove to Kensington in 1930, the brightly painted figures have repeatedly fallen into disrepair.

In the mid-1960s, Spike Milligan, the writer and humorist, carried out restoration work and in 1985 sculptor Norman Cook undertook a second restoration.

Yesterday Mr Milligan returned to the garden to launch the appeal for new repairs and maintenance. He said: "In 1964, I took my daughter Laura to see the Elfin Oak. It was in a woeful state and Laura said, 'What a pity someone can't mend it'.

"Alas the tree is now in a sorry state and needs attention to ensure its survival."

The tree is in the gardens where the writer JM Barrie met the boys who were the inspiration for Peter Pan - whose own fairy, Tinkerbell, needed people only to clap to ensure her survival.

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