Havering Council has received strong public support to plant over 1,000 trees to commemorate the impact of COVID-19 on local communities.
Earlier this summer, the Council launched a survey asking residents for their opinions as part of its plans, while also gathering details from residents or groups who may wish to take part in the planting and ongoing maintenance.
The trees aim to be a living testament to those who have lost their lives, family or loved ones. The woodland will also honour the significant efforts by key workers and our residents to keep our borough safe during the pandemic.
Over a 100 people responded to the online survey, with over 90 per cent of people supporting memorial tree planting as a suitable way of honouring those who suffered loss due to COVID-19 and paying tribute to the efforts of key workers.
The plans for a Memorial Woodland at Hornchurch Country Park was supported by 85 per cent of respondents. The large-scale site will comprise of over 1,000 trees leading from a central memorial stone. It will also include paths to provide accessibility for elderly and disabled residents.
A series of local individual tree plantings in borough wards and at significant sites such as Queen’s Hospital was also supported by 89 per cent of respondents. All the memorial sites aim to provide a suitable space for quiet reflection.
A number of responses raised concerns on the environmental impact of planting trees on existing green space such as Hornchurch Country Park. However, the Council has committed to not removing any existing trees and the project will enhance the biodiversity of the larger park setting, providing the necessary space for trees and wildlife to flourish.
Following the survey feedback, arrangements have been made to support and encourage the community and local businesses to contribute through the installation of dedicated memorial benches at the Hornchurch Country Park site. To express interest and to receive more information regarding memorial benches please email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Leader of Havering Council, Damian White, said:
“I want to thank those who took time in responding to the survey. The feedback and support for a lasting COVID-19 memorial is really positive. We want to create a number of memorial sites across the borough where our residents and key workers will be able to reflect and remember those lost during this awful pandemic. But they will also be places of peace and in years to come, a reminder of Havering’s unwavering community spirit which helped us all get through the most difficult of times. It is really important for us to have residents play a part in this project as we move forward with plans.
“I was grateful to receive a letter of support for our plans from our partners at Queen’s Hospital given the significant effort of local NHS staff in keeping us all safe.
“Queen’s Hospital are looking forward to welcoming a tree within the hospital grounds that will honour the loss of life throughout the borough, whilst acknowledging the efforts of key workers and residents throughout the pandemic.”