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100 war memorial trees to mark First World War centenary

2 people dig a hole to plant a tree

The first of 100 war memorial trees has been planted in Weston Park as part of the city’s commemoration of the centenary of First World War.

The remainder of the first phase of plantings will see one large English oak tree established in 31 city and district parks, and avenues of smaller lime trees planted in Longley Park and Firth Park in the north of the city, Greenhill Park and Herdings Park in the south and one at the Cholera Monument.

Lime trees will create a wonderful spectacle similar to the avenues at Ecclesfield Park, also dedicated to soldiers who fought in the First World War.

Over the coming months, each of the trees and avenues will be marked by a granite stone memorial with the inscription:

‘Lest we forget - all the brave men and women of Sheffield who gave their lives and those who hereafter continue to give, in the pursuit of freedom and peace. WW1 Centenary 2018.’

The war memorial trees will also commemorate soldiers of the Second World War, with the first tree planted in Weston Park dedicated to those who lost their lives in the Normandy Landings campaign.

A number of veterans attended the planting and placed a small amount of sand from the three Normandy landing beaches into the tree pit in memory of their fallen comrades. A full dedication ceremony will take place in June next year, 75 years after the campaign.

Graham Askham, secretary of the Normandy Veterans Sheffield and District, said:

As the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the Normandy Campaign approaches, the veterans are grateful to Sheffield City Council for recognising the sacrifices made by local people who took part in the fight to liberate France and bring freedom to many in Europe.

22,500 people gave their lives in Normandy during the summer of 1944, many of whom were from Sheffield and the surrounding area.

We now look forward to the official dedication ceremony of the Normandy Tree, commemorative stone and bench in Weston Park next year.

A dedication event will be held during November at each of the avenues.

Councillor Julie Dore, Council Leader, and Councillor Mary Lea, Cabinet Member for Culture, Parks and Leisure, will lead the events, alongside local councillors, MPs, friends groups, schools and representatives from local armed forces cadets.

The events are scheduled to take place on the following dates:

Longley Park – Thursday 1 November 2018 at 11am

Firth Park – Sunday 4 November 2018 at 11am

Cholera Monument - Tuesday 6 November at 11am

Herdings Park - Thursday 8 November at 11am

Greenhill Park – Saturday 10 November at 11am

Councillor Lea said:

We are hoping to dedicate these sites as Centenary Fields in Trust to secure recreational spaces in perpetuity and honour the memory of the millions of people who lost their lives in World War One, by protecting outdoor recreational space for the benefit of future generations.
Wherever you are in Sheffield you will be able to visit a park and pay your respects to those who sacrificed their lives for peace.

The council particularly wants local community groups and schools to get involved in the planting ceremonies and encourages anyone interested to get in touch by contacting @parkssheffield on Twitter or by calling 0114 2500500.

The 100 war memorial trees planted this year to mark the centenary will be followed by 200 more in the coming year. Work is currently being done to confirm locations of the next phase of memorial trees.