1,600 trees and counting: Somerset Wood organisers say thank you

The first phase of Somerset Wood tree planting is now complete, with organisers thanking volunteers for their “extraordinary” response.

More than 200 volunteers have given up their time to get involved in the project that will create a lasting, living memorial to the 11,281 Somerset residents who lost their lives in the First World War.

Over the 15 days of planting between 10 January and 10 February they have invested 564 hours in the project – with all 1,600 of this season’s trees now in the ground.

Planting will resume in November, so anyone planning to drop in at the weekend to help out is asked to wait until the autumn.

The Somerset Wood project is a joint partnership between Taunton Deane Borough Council, Somerset County Council, and Cheddon Fitzpaine and West Monkton Parish Councils. Located in the largely rural parish of Cheddon Fitzpaine to the north of Taunton and west of Monkton Heathfield, 14,000 trees will eventually be planted to create a community wood in honour of the Somerset residents who died in World War One.

Project Manager and West Monkton Parish Councillor, Alan Hall, said: “We’ve been overwhelmed by the extraordinary response and generosity of people who have offered their time to help.

“We would like to thank everyone for getting involved. We are sorry to disappoint those of you who were scheduled to plant in the next couple of weeks. We could not have known the speed with which people have worked, nor the mostly favourable weather conditions.

“Some of you offered support last November and, please rest assured, you have not been forgotten.  There will be more trees to plant and, as soon as the plans are firmed up with the available trees, we will contact you again.”

The groups of volunteers have included youngsters from the YMCA Bridgwater and Army Cadets from the Bishops Hull Platoon, Somerset Army Cadets, who toiled through some wet and windy conditions to play their part in the project.

Local resident, Neil Mitchell, who has also volunteered, said: “I was really impressed with the enthusiasm shown by the cadets. They genuinely enjoyed themselves in spite of the hard work and changeable weather. A lovely bunch.”

Covering 23 acres, the wood will be a place for wildlife and peace within a planned Country Park that will be an integral part of Taunton’s Garden Town status. The Somerset Wildlife Trust has helped coordinate the volunteer effort and the Woodland Trust has helped secure the trees.

Further details about the Somerset Wood project and how to support it by volunteering to plant trees or making a donation towards the cost of creating and maintaining the wood can be found on the County Council website:

http://www.somerset.gov.uk/environment-and-planning/countryside/the-somerset-wood/

Donations to the Somerset Wood project can be made in two ways:

  • Paypal using this email address somersetwood@somerset.gov.uk
  • Cheque to Somerset County Council – please write ‘Somerset Wood’ on the back of the cheque – and include the code 113202 71300. Please send cheques to: Cashier, Accounts Receivable, Finance, Floor A1E, County Hall, Taunton TA1 4DY