Covid memorial trees to be planted in High Peak

As the nation marks the one year anniversary of the first Covid lockdown, High Peak Borough Council has announced it will be planting memorial trees to mark the losses that people in the borough have suffered as a result of the pandemic.

Events planned for the National Day of Reflection on Tuesday 23 March include a minute’s silence at midday and a doorstep vigil at 8pm to remember all those who have died.

High Peak Mayor, Councillor Ed Kelly, said: “This year has been like no other and everyone has been affected in some way. Very sadly, people across High Peak have lost loved ones and no community has been untouched by the impact the virus has had.

“Others have felt this in their businesses and livelihoods, their education and the lack of social contact with family members and friends and, on behalf of the Council, we send our sincere condolences to all those who have suffered.

“Alongside joining the national reflection, we wanted to have a lasting legacy within our communities in recognition and acknowledgement and we’ve chosen to plant memorial trees as places where people can go to remember for years to come.”

Proposed sites for the trees include the Slopes in Buxton and Norfolk Square in Glossop; parks and recreation grounds in Chapel-en-le-Frith, Hadfield, Hayfield, New Mills and Whaley Bridge, and cemeteries and war memorials in Castleton, Hope and Tintwistle.

The type of trees to be planted include oak, lime, maple and beech and other sites could be considered if there is interest from parish councils. They will be planted during the next tree planting season in the autumn.

Councillor Damien Greenhalgh, Deputy Leader and Executive Councillor for Regeneration, Tourism and Leisure, said: “We’re all more aware of the beneficial impact of spending time outdoors amongst nature so it seems particularly appropriate to plant trees in memorial to those that have lost their lives to this virus.

“People will have their own favourite trees and locations, that will mean something to them and their loved ones, where they can quietly and personally spend time remembering. I hope that they will offer some solace in the months and years to come.”

And, for one Glossop resident, the oak trees that will be planted in Norfolk Square will have a very special resonance as she remembers her father.

Shirley Woods-Gallagher said: “My Dad’s dying wish was to have an oak tree to remember him by. An oak tree in my village square means the world to me. I will finally have new scaffolding to process grief and celebrate his life.

“It will help all bereaved families whatever their families have died of during the last year.”

Woodland tribute to Derbyshire's coronavirus victims

Meanwhile, a memorial woodland will be created in Derbyshire to remember and honour more than 2,000 local people who have died with Covid-19 in the last 12 months.

Derbyshire County Council is considering Grassmoor Country Park as a site, subject to local consultation with groups, to create a sustainable tribute that will be a place for people to walk and remember those they have lost, for years to come.

Councillor Barry Lewis, Leader of Derbyshire County Council said a living, sustainable tribute was a fitting memorial to those who had lost their lives.

“Derbyshire, and the whole world, has experienced an incredibly hard 12 months, the like of which none of us could have predicted and which we hope to never see again.

“We have lost over 2,000 people in Derbyshire, people who were family, friends and colleagues and will be missed for many decades to come. We want to create a place where people can come to remember, to find some peace and healing in a natural and sustainable environment and to know that their loved one has not been forgotten.

“Over the coming months we will be talking to people across the county about the woodland and gathering their ideas so we can create a place that is truly meaningful and is owned by our communities.

“As we emerge from this lockdown, hopefully for the last time, it is important that whilst we look forward we also remember and hold those who meant so much to us in our hearts and that we create a place to visit and remember.”

Further information about the scheme, and ways to get involved, will be shared over the summer and autumn.

Main image:

Shirley Woods-Gallagher, holding a picture of her father with his grandson, and Councillor Damien Greenhalgh in Glossop’s Norfolk Square where one of the memorial trees will be planted.

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