The first steps towards creating a lasting memorial parkland to remember and honour local people who died from COVID-19 and pay tribute to the work of the NHS have been taken with the planting of the first trees.
A ceremony held earlier today (Wednesday 8 December 2021) saw Council Leader Councillor Barry Lewis and Civic Chairman Councillor Jean Wharmby help to plant a Japanese flowering cherry tree at Grassmoor Country Park near Chesterfield. An avenue of oak trees has already been planted at the site.
The ceremonial planting was attended by multi-faith representatives, Derbyshire County Council Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Environment Councillor Carolyn Renwick, an NHS representative, members of the Friends of Grassmoor Country Park and our countryside service staff. Attendees made short speeches about the effects of COVID-19 on their communities and welcomed the start of work on the memorial parkland.
Councillor Barry Lewis said:
“The idea for the memorial parkland came from a lady who contacted me during the pandemic and had lost loved ones to COVID-19 and wanted somewhere to remember them and celebrate their lives.
“From that conversation the idea grew, and what we will have as the trees grow is a beautiful, green, peaceful space where people will be able to sit, walk, reflect and remember.
“I’m incredibly honoured to have been part of the ceremony to mark the first trees being planted and very pleased we have been able to make this happen.”
Council Civic Chairman Councillor Jean Wharmby said:
“This has been an incredibly poignant and moving event to officially mark the start of our memorial parkland, which will grow and grow.
“So many of us have been affected by COVID-19 and sadly many have experienced the loss of someone close to them.
“While we know the pandemic is far from over, we are beginning the process of recovery and healing, and the start of the memorial parkland is part of that process. In years to come people will be able to visit this area of Grassmoor Country Park and remember and celebrate the lives of those who were lost. It already feels like a truly special place.”
We agreed the creation of the memorial parkland in September and it’s supported by the Friends of Grassmoor Country Park.
The memorial parkland will be designed in keeping with the character of the local landscape and will feature a native wildflower meadow with an avenue of trees including wild cherry, rowan, hazel, birch, hawthorn, dogwood, oak, wych elm, willow and aspen. These trees have been selected for their spiritual meaning and to give displays of blossom in the spring and fruit for birds and other wildlife in the summer and autumn. They will be complemented by smaller, native shrub species.
A walkway to a memorial feature is also proposed, which will be made accessible to all.
The ceremonial tree planting marks the first phase of work to develop the memorial parkland area, and in time the newly created area will become a location for people to visit, spend time and remember loved ones lost during the pandemic. Further work to install seating to provide an area for quiet contemplation overlooking the parkland as it matures would follow in the second phase of the project.
Friends of Grassmoor Country Park have agreed to help the us with the planting and maintenance of the memorial parkland which will contribute to our target of planting a million trees by 2030.
Grassmoor Country Park is a popular country park that was developed on a reclaimed colliery site. It is easily accessible from Junction 29 of the M1 and the A617 and can be visited by bus.