Memorial tree garden for Covid-19 victims and key workers

A memorial arboretum to remember local residents who have died during the Covid-19 pandemic and pay tribute to key workers will be created in Telford and Wrekin.

It has been announced today (26 February) that a green area of the borough will be used to plant a tree garden for quiet reflection for those who have fallen victim to the virus and for the key workers who have cared for them.

More than 120,000* people in the UK have lost their lives to the virus since the outbreak of the pandemic, and 241 have died in Telford and Wrekin.

Cllr Carolyn Healy, Telford & Wrekin Council cabinet member for the natural environment, said: “The idea of planting trees to commemorate all those affected by the pandemic and to say thanks to key workers is something we very much want to do.

“Nature has been one positive outlet for us all over the last 12 months. People often talk to me about how glad they are to live in such a beautiful part of the country, even more so during lockdowns. As trees are a symbol of enduring strength and can weather the toughest of storms, it feels fitting to create a memorial arboretum.”

Whilst plans for the arboretum, including its location, are yet to be finalised, the chair of the Interfaith Council, Cllr Raj Mehta, has taken inspiration from the idea and has planted a Liquidambar tree in Telford Town Park today to pay tribute to all communities from all faiths who have been impacted by Covid-19.

Located in the grassy area between the play areas and Malinslee steps, the Liquidambar tree, commonly called sweetgum, will provide spectacular autumn colour, turning golden yellow, orange, bright red to purple.

Cllr Mehta said: “The Interfaith Council is working with Telford & Wrekin Council and health partners to do all we can to raise awareness and support our local communities. 

“I wanted to plant this tree now to commemorate those affected and give hope that we will get through this.”

Over the coming months the Council will be talking to local communities about its idea to work with them to create a memorial arboretum and hear their thoughts on what form it should take and its location.

Cllr Healy added: “We want to create somewhere that gives us a place to grieve and pay tribute to the work and dedication of key workers including NHS staff and care workers. There are many ways we can do this, we could look at Crowdfunding, sponsorship or offer people the opportunity to dedicate a tree that will celebrate or commemorate loved ones. 

“Our hope is that the arboretum will bring comfort and hope by just being there, and so it is important that we work together to get this right.”

*Number of deaths of people who had had a positive test result for COVID-19 and died within 28 days of the first positive test. Source: UK Government