Volunteers from Armed Forces charity Walking With The Wounded (WWTW) and Newcastle City Council were joined by Councillors Karen Kilgour and Ged Bell, local MP Chi Onwurah and Nick Atkinson from the Freemen of Newcastle to plant over 400 trees in Newcastle.
The saplings, which were donated by the Woodland Trust, are being planted as part of the WWTW’s Growing Together project at four sites across the city including on the Town Moor opposite the former site of Fenham Barracks. The project is being spearheaded by OP-REGEN, WWTW’s volunteering programme.
Newcastle were the first city to be invited to take part in the Growing Together project, which is part of a larger OP-REGEN programme that supports ex-servicemen and women who struggle to transition from the military to settle back into society, encourages volunteers to engage with and embrace the area they live in.
When COVID restrictions allow interpretation boards will be placed alongside the trees explaining what they are and why they have been planted. And while the saplings are currently very young, as they take root and grow, they will be a lasting tribute to the work of WWTW and all those who serve in the armed forces.
Councillor Karen Kilgour, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care and Armed Forces Champion at Newcastle City Council said
“Walking With The Wounded are an incredibly important charity in Newcastle and we are honoured that they asked us to be part of their Growing Together project.
“The work that WWTW do is vital to veterans and their families. A lot of the work they do is around employment and employability and they also offer mental health support. This project brings together elements of volunteering with some of the things that we know can help improve mental health.
“By working together with WWTW and the Freemen we have been able to green parts of our city and recognise the important role the Armed Forces community plays in our local community.”
Chi Onwurah MP said
“The pandemic has given us a greater appreciation of nature and the important role that it plays to both the environment and our health and wellbeing. Planting these trees on our wonderful Town Moor is so good for Newcastle now and for future generations.
“I’m particularly pleased about the involvement of Walking With The Wounded because support for our veterans is really important and I think this is something that our whole community can get involved with which is really what Newcastle is all about. Communities supporting each other as individuals and together.”
Gemma McDonald from Walking With The Wounded said
“We work with ex-military to support them towards independence and to re-integrate back into society.
“The aim of OP-REGEN is to offer a platform to display the veteran’s skills and show how they can contribute to their communities by helping to regenerate the areas in which they live. Growing Together is a project to plant trees across Newcastle to help create cleaner air and greener spaces.
“We would like to thank the Woodland Trust for donating the trees and Newcastle City Council and the Freemen for all their support in delivering the project.”
Nick Atkinson, Vice Chair of the Freemen of Newcastle Stewards Committee said
“As the custodian of the Town Moor, the lungs of the city, we are proud to support the Walking With the Wounded with the Growing Together project and pleased to support the council and the city in the planting of the trees.
“This is all about giving back to the community and the project will benefit everyone and we hope everyone will respect the saplings and give them a chance to grow into mature trees that will add to the ecological diversity of the Town Moor.”