Forest of Memories Runnymede, Now open!

300 Trees Planted on The First Day!

Now Open

The Forest of Memories Runnymede is now open. The Forest of Memories, Runnymede opened on the 7th December with a small intimate tree planting session at Cooper Hill Woods at the National Trust Runnymede.  over 300 tress were planted on the day. The event closed with a minute’s silence in remembrance of those lost to Covid-19, followed by a small vigil, including a Pipers Lament.  

Families & Community Groups

The Forest of Memories invited local families and community group leaders to plant trees in honour of their loved ones on the opening day.  Despite the awful weather, the event was well attended, with over 50 participants from the local area.

2o families were able to plant their own Memory TreesSome of the groups who attended were: Andy Brown representing the Surrey Scouts families affected by loss during Covid19, Tom Smerdon from Ashford & St Peter’s Trust NHS Foundation for their staff members who passed away to Covid19, Andrea Williams attended on behalf of the Covid-19 Families – Wales group, Akram Ahmedi dedicating a tree to members of the Ahmadiyya Community that lost their lives to Covid19, Rab Sherwood representing Covid19FamiliesUK and Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice groups, amongst others.

The Forest of Memories Runnymede

Nestled between the RAF Memorial in Runnymede and the historical Magna Carta Memorial, on National Trust land a momentous occasion took place.  The first Forest of Memories was born.  This area known as Coopers Woods is an ancient woodland, with Great Oaks dating back three to four hundred years.  Unfortunately, the huge ash dieback problem that is sweeping our nation has also taken a stronghold and thousands of dead trees have had to be felled.

Ash Dieback

Ash dieback, caused by a fungus called Hymenoscyphus fraxineus, originated in Asia and spread to Europe via the global plant trade. With its windborne spores, the fungus spreads quickly, causing leaf loss, bark lesions and dieback in the crown of the tree, where the branches emerge from the trunk.

As these trees are felled, it has given rise to open spaces where re-planting needs to take place.  Under the instruction of The National Trust, visitors were able to safely plant their preselected species of tree.  The species list was chosen specifically to enhance the bio-diversity of these particular woods.

Over 300 Trees Planted

Approximately 300 trees were planted by the National Trust volunteer group, these will be allocated through Memory Trees in due course.  Eventually, with the National Trust, we hope to plant up to 10,000 trees in this location.

Vigil To Finish

Once all the trees were in the ground, despite it being a bit blustery, a minutes silence was observed by all of the visitors, only broken by a most befitting Piped Lament led by the Music Department of Gordon’s School.

Many of the families that planted their trees had been waiting over a year. Now, with their tree finally in the ground, some sort of closure could be observed in those that braved the cold that day.

Forest of Memories Runnymede Now Open

With the planting now started, and the first of our signage up, we can say that we are officially now open!  The Forest of Memories Runnymede can be accessed from both the South and North, and eventually we plan to have a memorial walk.

The Future

Over the festive period, The Forest of Memories will be working hard to implement the technology part of Memory Trees.  Tree planting will be ongoing, and we will be holding a few volunteer days in the new year in which families can again come and plant their own tree for their loved ones. 

Other Locations

2022 will bring new locations. We are planning for there to be a Forest of Memories near every major city in the UK.  Make sure you are subscribed to your favourite social media platform – Links at the top of this page.

BBC News Report - The Opening of The Forest of Memories, Runnymede 7th December 2021


Photography By Veronika Ward

See Also