A memorial wood is being created for future generations to enjoy in memory of the Fallen from Somerset who lost their lives in WW1.
The “Somerset Wood” is being established through a joint partnership of Taunton Deane Borough Council, Somerset County Council, Cheddon Fitzpaine Parish Council and West Monkton Parish Council.
It will cover 23 acres within a planned Country Park which is to be located to the west of Monkton Heathfield and the east of Nerrols Farm and an integral part of Taunton’s Garden Town status, with a north/south route improving connections with the Quantock Hills AONB and the Taunton urban area.
The site will be planted with some 14,000 broad-leaved trees to create the community wood for all Somerset residents, in commemoration of the 11,281 Somerset residents who died in WW1.
It is intended to be a place for wildlife, people and peace. And it’s hoped that residents, especially local youngsters, will get involved in the planting of the trees.
Councillor Norman Cavill, ward member for West Monkton, is TDBC’s project champion. He said: “This is a wonderful example of partnership working to achieve something truly worthwhile. It will provide a peaceful recreational space for everyone to enjoy, protecting our green spaces for future generations while honouring those who gave their life in the Great War.”
Councillor Nigel Taylor, Chair of Somerset County Council, said: “A permanent, living memorial like this is a truly fitting way to remember those who gave their lives in WW1. To be able to see it dedicated and blessed just a couple of days before Remembrance Day in this the 100th anniversary year, will make it even more special.”
The ceremonial naming of the wood will be led by HM’s Lord Lieutenant of Somerset, Mrs Anne Maw, on Friday, 9 November. It will be followed by a short Service of Dedication and Blessing conducted by the Archdeacon of Taunton, the Venerable Simon Hill, on behalf of The Bishop of Bath and Wells.
Two fields which will make up part of the Wood and Country Park have recently been purchased by TDBC from the Crown Estate as part of their policy of enabling community benefit where they have housing development.
West Monkton and Cheddon Fitzpaine Parish Councils have produced a joint Neighbourhood Plan which includes an aspiration to oversee the establishment and management of the Country Park. The parishes are assisting in the planning of the wood and have made a generous commitment to oversee the management of the Country Park.
Denise Webber, Chair of Cheddon Fitzpaine Parish Council, said: “The Parish of Cheddon Fitzpaine is delighted to be working alongside the Parish of West Monkton in honouring those people who came from Somerset as died in WW1. Dedicating this wood to their memory is a small token of our lasting respect for their ultimate sacrifice.”
Stuart Haskins, Chair of West Monkton Parish Council, said: “The Parish is honoured to be part of this unique project to enable a Wood as part of a larger park. This will be for the benefit of all present and future residents and to remember those who paid the ultimate price in service to their Country.”
Trees are being provided by The Woodland Trust and as many as possible will be planted between December 2018 and March 2019. Further information will be provided on the planting timetable for those who wish to help.