Trees planted across Sheffield in remembrance of World War One soldiers

Schoolchildren have been planting trees today in Herdings Park to commemorate the centenary of World War One.

The remembrance event in Herdings Park comes two days after Sheffield City Council reversed their decision to cut down 32 previously planted WW1 memorial trees on Western Road.

Lisa Firth, head of Parks and Countryside for Sheffield City Council, said the idea came in reaction to protesting by Sheffield Tree Action Group (STAG) about the removal of these trees in the Crookes area of the city.

Lisa Firth, Head of Parks and Countryside at Sheffield City Council, talks about WW1 remembrance

Mrs Firth said the street trees the council wishes to replace represent a small fraction, 0.1% to be exact, of the 4.5 million across the Sheffield City Region.

In terms of these war memorial trees, she said: “I walked past one the other day and it gave me five minutes of contemplation. If it can give people that bit of peace, then it is massively important.”

In an exclusive reveal, she confirmed that a new trees and woodland strategy will be put to the Sheffield City Council Cabinet in December. It will see the planting of 100,000 trees in the city across the next 15 years.

On the importance of the greenness in Sheffield, she said: “We know how important trees are to mitigating climate change, air pollution, flood defence. The kids who have been involved in this planting were so enthusiastic about looking after them. They even have names!”

The planting is part of a citywide event, in which 100 trees will be planted in 31 Sheffield district parks. Weston Park, The Cholera Monument and Firth Park are amongst the other venues chosen.

Speaking from the planting, Councillor Julie Dore said: “I think Herdings Park provides a great place for these trees, where people of this generation and the next can pay their respects and remember those who died.”

The Sheffield Pals Battalion, raised in 1914, was initially assigned to defend the Suez Canal in 1916. However, they were redeployed to France and served in the Somme Offensive, sustaining heavy casualties.

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Pupils from Valley Park Primary School in Gleadless hard at work

Due to extensive research by local residents Dean Hill and Stuart Reeves, upwards of 50,000 men from Sheffield are believed to have served during the Great War.

The plantings recognise WW2 soldiers also. The first tree planted in Weston Park was done so to honour those who died in the Normandy Landings of 1944.  

Mel Luff, head of the community group “Friends of Herdings Park”, said that the relevance of schoolchildren today remembering those who died in the conflict is vital.

Furthermore, she said: “Herdings is only a small park with two generous copses existing. This new “WW1 Avenue” is good and will enhance the appearance of the park.”

Over the coming months, stone memorial plaques with the following inscription will mark each of the new trees and avenues:

“Lest we forget – all the brave men and women of Sheffield who gave their lives and those who hereafter continue to give, in the pursuit of freedom and peace. WW1 Centenary 2018.”