A TREE trail in a country park will soon be providing a space for reflection and remembrance for those whose lives have been affected by the coronavirus, thanks to the success of a crowdfunding campaign.
In just two months, local people and businesses have helped raise the £60,000 needed to create a tree-lined memorial walk that will link the city side of Watermead Park in the south with the county side in the north.
By the time the crowdfunding campaign ended on Sunday (31 January), around 170 individuals and organisations had stepped forward to support Leicestershire County Council and Leicester City Council’s proposals for the project.
Now that the funding has been secured, plans can be implemented to plant the 58 hornbeam, elm, oak, aspen and birch trees that will form the trail – with the two councils hoping that all the trees will be in place by March.
City Mayor Peter Soulsby – who hosted the campaign on his crowdfunding platform, CrowdFund Leicester – said: “The last 12 months have been extraordinarily difficult, but people have continued to pull together in extraordinary ways.
“By supporting this project, local people have shown the strength of our community once again.
“Thanks to their generosity, we can create this living and lasting memorial that will help to acknowledge the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on all our lives – and represent our optimism for the future.
“I am very grateful to everyone who got behind this project. Their support means we can create a place of natural beauty that will be enjoyed by the people of Leicester and Leicestershire for generations to come.”
Nick Rushton, leader of Leicestershire County Council, said: “In December we set out to deliver a project that would bring the spirit of our communities even closer together – creating a memorial walk that would help acknowledge the impact coronavirus has had on everyone’s lives.
“People have been truly tested by this pandemic, physically and mentally, and we are humbled to have witnessed so many people declaring their willingness to work together once again to make this project possible.
“The new environmentally-conscious walk will serve many across local communities acting as a space to reflect on the past, while looking to the future.
“I would personally like to extend thanks to everyone who supported this project. It really does reflect the strength and positivity of our county and city during very difficult and challenging times.”
Interpretation boards will be placed at each end of the walk, while benches will be installed at regular intervals to encourage people to use the space to relax and reflect.
Subject to weather and ground conditions, the new trees will be planted, and the benches installed, by March 2021 – with the interpretation boards expected to be installed later in the spring.
More information about the Watermead Memorial Walk can be found on its fundraising page at www.spacehive.com/watermead-memorial-walk
Picture caption: A tree is planted at Watermead Country Park to launch the Memorial Walk crowdfunding appeal in December 2020