A TREE trail in a country park could soon provide a space for reflection and remembrance for those whose lives have been affected by the coronavirus, if a new crowdfunding campaign is successful.
Volunteers, park rangers and tree wardens are supporting Leicestershire County Council and Leicester City Council’s proposals for a tree-lined memorial walk that would link the city side of Watermead Park with the county side.
Subject to funding being secured by 31 January 2021, some 58 new trees would be planted, creating a linear walk from the north to the south of the park and featuring species including hornbeam, elm, oak, aspen and birch.
Interpretation boards would be placed at each end of the walk, while benches would be installed at regular intervals to encourage people to use the space to relax and reflect.
People across the city and the county are now being invited to help create the memorial walk by supporting the project via its dedicated crowdfunding page – and helping to raise the £61,078 required.
Nick Rushton, leader of Leicestershire County Council, said: “This year has been, and continues to be, difficult and challenging. The strength of public services, innovation from businesses and the spirits of millions have been truly tested.
“This project aims to create an environmentally-conscious space that will continue to bring people together. In doing so, we will not only look back on 2020 as a difficult year, but as a year we pulled through by working together and supporting our communities.
“Our fundraising target of £61,078 may seem like an ambitious goal for our proposed memorial walk in Leicester and Leicestershire, but the city and county councils have already pledged to meet ongoing maintenance costs of £29,000 – while a business, The Art Department, has made a generous pledge of £3,528.
"If we are to complete the first phase of our proposals by the end of January 2021, we need to call on our communities and businesses to help make this plan a reality. All pledges of support, however large or small, will be gratefully received – and will contribute to creating something really positive for the community at the end of what has been a very difficult year.”
City Mayor Peter Soulsby is hosting the two councils’ campaign for a memorial walk on his crowdfunding platform, CrowdFund Leicester.
“2020 will be remembered as a year of dreadful loss and suffering, with the coronavirus pandemic affecting all of our lives,” he said.
“But it should also be remembered as the year when people pulled together in extraordinary ways – protecting their communities and helping each other through the difficult times.
“As 2020 comes to an end, what better way is there to show our optimism for the future than by coming together again to create a lasting, and living, memorial.
“The Watermead Memorial Walk is a project that has my full support. Let’s create it together – and let people in Leicester and Leicestershire enjoy it together.”
There’s also been support for the project from Leicester’s tree wardens. Volunteer co-ordinator Penny Brown said: “The tree wardens are looking forward to supporting the project with promotion and tree planting, in the hope that the new memorial walk will bring comfort to those who have been directly affected by the pandemic.”
More information about the Watermead Memorial Walk can be found on its fundraising page at www.spacehive.com/watermead-memorial-walk
The new trees would be planted in February and March 2021, with the interpretation boards expected to be installed in the spring.
People are being asked to pledge their donations now, although no money will be taken until February 2021.
The minimum pledge that can be made is £2.
Donations will only be taken, if the campaign reaches its target by 31 January 2021.
Picture caption: Members of Leicester City Council’s trees and woodland team plant a hornbeam in Watermead Park to launch the Memorial Walk project and to mark National Tree Week (which runs until Sunday 6 December).