A TREE trail in a country park that will provide a space for reflection and remembrance for those whose lives have been affected by coronavirus will be formally opened on Monday (21 June).
The idea for a tree-lined memorial walk in Watermead Park was proposed by Leicester City Council and Leicestershire County Council last year, with dozens of individuals and businesses supporting the project through a crowdfunding campaign.
Since funding for the memorial walk was secured in January, 58 trees have been planted along a 2.6 mile route that links the city side of Watermead Park in the south, with the county side in the north.
The new trees – including aspen, cockspur thorn, elm, hornbeam, maple, oak, rowan and silver birch – now form a tranquil trail through the park.
Benches have been installed at regular intervals along the route to encourage people to use the space to relax and reflect. A small plaque on each bench has been engraved with lines of poetry, or a quote from literature, to provide words of comfort or hope.
City Mayor Peter Soulsby – who hosted the fundraising campaign on his crowdfunding platform, CrowdFund Leicester – said: “The last 15 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 have created 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 hope that this memorial walk will provide a place for reflection and hope, and that it will be enjoyed by the people of Leicester and Leicestershire for generations to come.”
Nick Rushton, leader of Leicestershire County Council, said: “This project brings people and communities together and acknowledges the impact coronavirus has had on everyone’s lives.
“The tree trail not only boosts the environment but also acts as a space to reflect whilst looking to the future. And I’d like to thank everyone who’s supported it. The support and generosity of residents and businesses during tough times has made it possible and it’s a project we should all be proud of.”
Local people and businesses helped raise the £60,000 needed to create the memorial walk, following the launch of a crowdfunding campaign last December.
By the time the campaign ended on 31 January, around 170 individuals and organisations had come forward to support the proposals.
Many people wanted to help create something lasting as a tribute to the thousands of key workers who risked their lives for others during the pandemic, while others contributed to the fund in memory of a loved one.
Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, COVID-19 has been mentioned on the death certificates of 2,411 people in Leicester and Leicestershire.
Picture caption: Leader of the county council Nick Rushton and City Mayor Peter Soulsby unveil the sign at Watermead Park.