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Hungerford's Lockdown Wood dedicated to coronavirus victims

HUNGERFORD’S Lockdown Wood at Westbrook Down has been dedicated to victims of the coronavirus pandemic and to the hope for a brighter future.

More than 1,000 young trees were planted in a community event last December in a community event and all are thriving. The project was a collaboration between Hungerford Environment Action Team (HEAT), St Lawrence Church and Newbury Friends of the Earth.

On Saturday, May 22, more than 30 people attended a dedication ceremony which included live music from Strings Attached’s Ron Macphee and Rosie Cochrane, a poetry reading from Hungerford schoolchildren and speeches.

lockdown (47850958)
lockdown (47850958)

Project co-ordinator Newbury Friends of the Earth member Susan Millington said: “We’re gathered here to mourn, and also to celebrate. To mourn family and friends who tragically died during the Covid pandemic; to mourn those now living with long Covid, mental or financial problems from lockdown; to mourn for the difficulties of our young people, struggling with lack of vital schooling or jobs.

“But also to celebrate – the power of community to come together to support each other in difficult times; the power of community to plant woodlands to help the healing of our souls and the planet; the coming together of groups to plant our three memorial Lockdown Woods, so people can plant trees to remember loved ones, and have beautiful natural places to visit for reflection and healing.”

Town mayor Helen Simpson said: “Your efforts have resulted in a brand new woodland which generations will now enjoy.

“Not only will these trees remove carbon from our atmosphere, they will support natural habitats and wildlife that live within them.

“As these trees grow and mature they will become a beautiful place to relax and explore, becoming a living memorial for years to come.”

Constable of the Town & Manor of Hungerford Peter Joseph said: “This new wood sits in an area overlooking the beautiful Freeman’s Marsh, a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

“We look after it and cherish it for the benefit of everyone in the town.

“What we have here has real meaning at a time when we all need somewhere to go to reflect on what has happened to us as a community.

“The trees that have been planted here are also themselves a sign of recovery as they replace an area of ash trees with ash die-back disease.”

HEAT chairwoman Helen Cukier said: “This has been a fantastic partnership, coming together as a community, all with the same goal.

“It has been great to get the primary school involved, so thanks for that fantastic banner and to the children for writing that lovely poem, which brought a tear to my eye.”

The vicar of St Lawrence, the Rev Mike Saunders, said: “The way we’re caring for our world isn’t great – we’re burning more fossil fuels and putting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

“How are we going to get from where we are to where we want to be? Well, some of it is by planting trees. We need to double the number of trees in West Berkshire.”

Piper Turner, 10, and Austin Pugh, 11, read a poem created by Piper and her friend, 11-year-old Alice Green. Eight-year-old Spencer Cukier read the poignant poem Leisure by WH Davies.

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