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Woodland Edge

"See you in another ten years!"

Worm, definitely

As we approach the 20th anniversary of the National Forest Company (we’ll be popping the odd cork on 1 April 2015) our recent tree planting event had many memorable moments. Poignant, even.

It was a Plant a Tree event at a new site near Brookvale High School in Ratby, near Leicester. Over 350 people attended, from all over the country, and we are increasingly meeting people at these events who have been supporters of the Forest over many years.

On this occasion I met one gentleman who had planted a tree with us at Staunton Harold in 2006. We had a conversation about how well the trees had done there and how nice it is to walk through the woodland to the David Nash Noon Column situated further into the wood.

I met another family where the parents had travelled from Southampton and the daughters from Northampton. The girls had bought the tree as a Mother’s Day gift, and Mum confessed to a tear or two when she read the certificate the girls had created for her. She was planting the tree in memory of her father, but more recently she had also lost her mother, so it was in double remembrance. She chose a wild cherry tree, to link with her mum. “This is such a lovely tribute,” she said. “My dad would never throw away a piece of wood, to him it was a living thing that needed to be looked after. Planting a tree for them is a wonderful thing to do.” Her husband also had a story to tell. His mother used to live in Coalville and had been on the original committee that had campaigned to bring the Forest to this area.

Then there was Millie, Georgie and Will. They were planting a tree that had been a gift to mark their christening. We captured a wonderful sequence of photographs showing the progress of Will’s fascination with a worm, distracting him completely from planting the tree.

I told Millie the story of my daughter planting a tree on a very soggy day, digging in with her spade to just miss a hibernating toad! Millie loved it.

Then there was Mr Arthur Lowe, planting a tree for his 90th birthday. In person, planting his tree. He needed a little breather after walking from the car to the tree planting field - “That’s the furthest I’ve walked for a long time!” - then planted his little oak tree, with the help of his nephew and his wife.

He was such a spritely elderly gent, he charmed us all completely! Having lived his whole life in the Forest area, Mr Lowe had certainly seen some changes. He’d planted a tree with us for his 80th birthday, at Staunton Harold, near where his wife had grown up. He told me how much she had loved animals, and would sleep in the hay rack when a little girl on her parents’ farm, the cattle pulling out the hay and munching it around her.

Arthur’s parting shot to us was “You’re doing a great job; it’s lovely to be here. I’ll be back in another ten years!”