Express & Star

Trees of life dedicated at special remembrance service

Saplings from a Staffordshire place of piece were blessed as part of a service of remembrance to honour those who served and died during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Dean of Westminster and representatives from different communities of faith blessed the trees and saplings. Photo: Picture Partnership/Westminster Abbey

Hundreds of pandemic key workers and members of the public gathered at Westminster Abbey for "Trees of Life" on Tuesday.

Organised by the National Memorial Arboretum and the National Forest Company, the service honoured the bravery and dedication of those who served the nation throughout the pandemic and remembered all those who died as a result of Covid-19 in the UK.

The service was led by the Very Rev. Dr David Hoyle, Dean of Westminster Abbey and included a testimony delivered by Philippa Rawlinson, director of the National Memorial Arboretum

Other readings came from Baroness Morgan, chair of the UK Commission on Covid Commemoration and John Everitt, chief executive of the National Forest Company.

The sapling was blessed during the Trees of Life service. Photo: Picture Partnership/Westminster Abbey

The Abbey was dressed with trees and saplings by renowned floral designer Shane Connolly.

During the service, these trees were blessed by representatives from diverse communities of faith, preparing them for planting in a new glade at the National Memorial Arboretum in the National Forest.

The planting will be the first step in the delivery of an inspirational living memorial to the pandemic within a 25-acre extension to the Arboretum.

Philippa Rawlinson said: “During the pandemic, health workers were joined by armies of everyday heroes dedicated to serving our country.

"From food and service workers who kept us in groceries, power, and water; to scientists and technicians who developed vaccines; to the Armed Forces and volunteers who administered them.

“Their valiant efforts meant the pandemic was bridled within months, not decades; at a cost to human life in the hundreds of thousands, not tens of million.

"Today we paid tribute to their unwavering service and remembered those who lost their lives during one of the deadliest pandemics in recorded history.”

The Abbey also hosted “The Leaves of the Trees” art installation, created by Sculptor Peter Walker, which has been touring the country. Photo: Picture Partnership/Westminster Abbey

“As the Nation’s year-round place to remember, we have been inundated with requests for us to commemorate the incredible service and sacrifice of key workers during the pandemic alongside providing a space in memory of those who tragically lost their lives.

“Together with the National Forest Company, we are developing an ambitious plan to transform a tract of former quarry land into an inspirational living landscape, representative of the changing seasons, where people can reflect and remember.

"The saplings blessed during the ‘Trees of Life’ service will be incorporated into a beautiful new glade at the Arboretum, as we begin to deliver on our vision for a dedicated new Remembrance space connected to the pandemic.”

The Abbey also hosted “The Leaves of the Trees” art installation, created by Sculptor Peter Walker, which has been touring the country.

the display across the floor of the Abbey was designed as a reflective memorial, made up of 5000 steel leaves with the word HOPE written upon them.

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