he Forest of Memories

Date and location

7 December 2021, 12:30pm, Runnymede Memorials, National Trust

The Forest of Memories, with support from the National Trust at Runnymede, will begin to plant Memory Trees in remembrance of the hundreds of thousands of families who lost loved ones during the pandemic.

Each sapling represents a lost soul and will help heal those people who were left behind, unable to say goodbye and properly grieve.

These Memory Trees are a symbol that reflect on the time of Covid-19, giving thanks to the millions of people who supported us at this difficult time and for those who continue to work tirelessly to ensure that people are safe and cared for.

Some groups being represented

  • NHS Staff who passed away to Covid-19 at St Peter's Trust
  • ellow Hearts Group
  • Covid-19 Families - Wales
  • Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice
  • COVID19FAMILIESUK
  • The Scouts
  • hmadiyya Muslim Community
  • Surrey and Metropolitan Police
  • RAF Cadets
  • Runnymede Borough Council

Some individuals being remembered:

With help of numerous local authorities, conservations groups and the National Trust at Runnymede, our aim is simple: to plant over 166,730 trees right across the country for each and every person taken by the virus, to create a natural place of reflection close to them, somewhere where they can celebrate and learn of those lives no longer with us.

The vision

These trees also represent our growing relationship with the National Trust at Runnymede and proud inclusion in their exciting Runnymede Explored Project. The Forest of Memories with their support has run a number of successful projects, from tying thousands of personalised yellow ribbons on trees, to holding a minute's silence for The National Day of Reflection. They have also co-hosted an event on Runnymede's to offer a safe space for families and friends to come together, to have a picnic, to talk to friends and reflect.

These first trees will find home in a grove that is overlooked by the Air Forces Memorial, nestled in the ancient woodland of Cooper's Hill Woods near the path of a well-trodden route through the estate. For those visiting Runnymede, they will be able to walk through a variety of ancient trees that make up the Cooper's Hill Memorial Forest, through trees that are hundreds of years old and protected by amazing National Trust staff and volunteers, so it is beautifully fitting that these trees with such significance will grow and thrive here for hundreds of years more.

The day

12.30 Arrive at Runnymede Memorials car park (or Air Forces Memorial car park for those with mobility issues)

13:00 Group tree planting

14:00 Individual tree planting

15:00 Candlelit vigil

15:30 Warm drinks and close

Quotes

"The 7th of December marks the start of our project the Forest of Memories. On the day invite local families and support groups to plant trees and officially open the Forest of Memories. But our task has really just begun. Over the next few years, with support from National Trust at Runnymede we will be planting thousands of trees in Cooper's Hill Woods and together we will be opening at least 4 other Forest of Memories up and down the UK."

Salmaan Nasser, chief vision officer, the Forest of Memories

"Covid19FamiliesUK is a national network of support groups for anyone who has lost someone during the pandemic. With over 40 regional support groups and 4,000 members, we offer support, friendship, understanding and advice to bereaved families and individuals. We work tirelessly throughout the year to organise memorial events for the bereaved, and we are working with various charities and organisations to improve bereavement support across the UK.

"Covid19FamiliesUK are delighted to be working with the Forest of Memories organisation on this fantastic tree planting project. One of the greatest aspects of this project is that it promotes inclusivity, since it allows for people worldwide to view individual dedicated trees, without physically needing to be at the forest. This is a key factor for our group as whilst we are UK based, there are family members worldwide who have lost loved ones in the UK which this platform enables to be involved.

"To date, there is no agreed permanent memorial, therefore the planting of the trees in this forest is even more important as a place for mourners to visit, whether physically or virtually. Safe in the knowledge that the land in which the trees are being planted is National Trust property makes for even more reassurance for members of the Covid19FamiliesUK group.

"Finally, the fact that a tree will grow for hundreds of years ensures that future generations will be able to visit and be reminded of the tragic loss of lives from the Covid pandemic. Covid19FamiliesUK fully support the Forest of Memories in building this dedicated memorial place."

Rab Sherwood, Member of the Covid19FamiliesUK group. Lost both parents to Covid in January 2021.

Facebook: Covid19FamiliesUK

Instagram: @Covid19Families

About the Forest of Memories

The Forest of Memories started life as a conceptual idea that came from our vision to see the planting of 166,730 trees, a life for a life: one tree to represent each of the lives we have lost in the UK because of Covid-19.

If the UK and its people wish to call themselves a civilised society, we believe we must collectively do something to mark this tragedy. A forest is a living, breathing thing that symbolically represents new life and fresh air and is a much more fitting memorial than a cold stone monument. A forest will be a lasting tribute that also helps fight climate change, the other great challenge of our time.

By planting the Forest of Memories, we will bring people together to create a way to never forget the 166,730 people we lost in the UK. But more than that, the Forest will be a symbol of rejuvenation and growth once we start to recover fully from the impact of Covid-19.

The 3 concepts being built into the Forest of Memories

The foundation for any forest is of course that it has healthy cared-for trees that are appropriate to its location and creates a range of wildlife habitats to protect and encourage eco-systems of wildlife. It goes without saying that the Forest of Memories will have these objectives and to achieve them we will be seeking professional advice and assistance.

1. A tree for every life lost

We are committed to achieving the goal of planting 166,730 trees in symbolic remembrance of every loved one lost because of Covid-19. That will require an area of at least 67 hectares (167 football pitches)

2. Recognising other impacts of Covid-19 and the lockdown

Through consultation people have told us that it is important to also acknowledge that the impacts of Covid-19 are greater than the recorded deaths. Issues like cancer, domestic abuse, homelessness (and more), together with the critical importance of access to healthcare through our NHS and a joined-up Care System all been highlighted because of Covid-19.

These issues were there before Covid as challenges and will continue to be challenges for us all in the future. People would like in some way for the Forest to acknowledge these issues in its design as well as remembering the loved ones lost.

3. Using interactive technology to keep memories alive

Each tree in the forest will symbolise a real life. We believe there is a way that we can integrate interactive technology into the forest in new ways. Where a specific tree is dedicated to a loved one, we feel that we can create a way for the families and friends of that loved one to embed memories in that tree.

Any visitor in the Forest who comes across that dedicated tree could then use their smartphone to interact with the tree to view those memories of the loved one it is dedicated too.

Imagine a headstone you might come across in a graveyard. You see a name and an inscription and probably wonder who that person was and what their story was. Now replace the headstone and think of a tree. That "Memory Tree" could hold those stories through technology and allow any visitor to know the story of the loved one.

Contact

Telephone: 0300 365 1003

Email: info@theforestofmemories.com

Web: https://TheForestOfMemories.com

Social media: https://www.facebook.com/theforestofmemories/

https://twitter.com/ForestOfMemory

https://www.linkedin.com/company/theforestofmemories/

https://www.instagram.com/the_forest_of_memories/

Contact Name:
Salmaan Nasser
Role:
Chief Vision Officer
Company:
The Forest of Memories
Contact Email:
click to reveal e-mail
Contact Phone:
07479608903
Company Website:
https://TheForestofMemories.com