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Lockdown Wood on Stroud Green, in Newbury, planted on Global Day of Action for the Climate helps to remember those lost during the Covid-19 pandemic



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The ‘extraordinary way that local communities have been brought together’ was highlighted again recently as a fourth Lockdown Wood was planted in Newbury.

A total of 90 home-grown saplings – lovingly tended in pots by residents since the first lockdown last year – were planted on Stroud Green on Global Day of Action for the Climate and as world leaders gathered at COP26 in Glasgow.

Around 75 people visited the plot over two days, with many planting their trees – a wide range of native deciduous species, including oak, maple and hazel - to remember loved ones lost during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Deputy Mayor Gary Norman planting a horse chestnut tree
Deputy Mayor Gary Norman planting a horse chestnut tree

Deputy mayor of Newbury, Gary Norman, joined the volunteers during the planting and said “there are very few silver linings to the massive dark cloud of Covid, but one such is the extraordinary way that local communities have been brought together as never before to create something positive out of it”.

He added: “I am delighted and honoured to be invited to attend this tree planting today.

“Newbury Town Council declared a climate emergency back in 2019 and we will always lend support to initiatives to try and reduce our carbon footprint, especially on this Global Day of Action for the Climate.”

Imogen Pitt and Lyra (6), with their hazel sapling
Imogen Pitt and Lyra (6), with their hazel sapling

Lockdown Woods project coordinator Dr Susan Millington, who is also a Newbury Friends of the Earth member, said the event had been “a long time coming”.

“We had hoped to invite people to plant their own trees last winter, but were prevented by the various lockdown restrictions,” she added. “So I was delighted to see so many folk turning up with saplings large and small over this weekend, and to be part of creating another beautiful breathing space for Newbury and the planet.

“Many of these trees are memorials to loved ones lost during the pandemic, which makes them especially important.

Sue and Gordon Ridgard with Joshua (6) and Noah (8), with their oak
Sue and Gordon Ridgard with Joshua (6) and Noah (8), with their oak

“From an ecological point of view, it is beneficial to plant trees whose parents have grown in local conditions - they should grow stronger than those brought in from elsewhere.”

Local teacher Sue Ridgard, who planted an oak tree on the green with her family, added: “Our oak tree appeared in our garden some years ago following our son's interest in planting acorns, conkers and other items in the hope that they might grow.

“It's important for young children to be aware of how they can help reduce our impact on the Earth's resources. For us the [Lockdown Woods] project was simply about planting trees for the good of our local environment and community.

Amy Pattenden and Clive Williams, Lockdown Woods volunteers, planting the final tree, a silver birch
Amy Pattenden and Clive Williams, Lockdown Woods volunteers, planting the final tree, a silver birch

“The project provided the perfect opportunity to plant our tree locally.The boys were thrilled to be able to take part on Saturday and I'm sure that they will be regular visitors to Stroud Green to check on the progress of their tree.”

Newbury Friends of the Earth member and one of the Lockdown Woods organising team, Olivia Lockyear, said: “This project has meant a lot to me over the last two years, giving me a focus in confusing and challenging times.

“Yesterday was a sort of culmination of Lockdown Woods for me, meeting our dedicated tree guardians who have followed our project from the start and planting out this new area of woodland. A beautiful example of community spirit and pure love for the environment.”

Welcome to Stroud Green tree planting - Sylvia Hart, Susan Millington, Shaun Leahy, members of the Newbury Friends of the Earth Lockdown Woods team
Welcome to Stroud Green tree planting - Sylvia Hart, Susan Millington, Shaun Leahy, members of the Newbury Friends of the Earth Lockdown Woods team

As the event was taking place on the Global Day of Action for the Climate, organisers also invited donations to the charity Tree Aid, which runs tree planting and community projects across the Sahel in Africa.

Sue and Gordon Ridgard with Joshua (6) and Noah (8), with their oak
Sue and Gordon Ridgard with Joshua (6) and Noah (8), with their oak


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