A total of 50,000 trees, including hundreds given to schools and charities across South Yorkshire, will be planted to form part of the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy.
The QCC will form a network of global forest conservation initiatives to mark Her Majesty's lifetime of service to the Commonwealth.
They will be planted by 10,000 members of the public who snapped them up in a matter of minutes in a free tree giveaway made possible by a partnership between the Woodland Trust, Sainsbury’s and ITV.
The giveaway was in support of a landmark documentary, The Queen's Green Planet, screened on ITV in April. It followed Her Majesty the Queen and the ambitious QCC legacy project which brings together her deeply held commitment to the Commonwealth and her love of trees. At the heart of the film by ITN Productions was a conversation between the Queen and Sir David Attenborough filmed in the gardens of Buckingham Palace last summer.
Each specially-labelled tree pack will contain five UK-sourced and grown native broadleaf trees – two silver birch, two rowan, and a hazel – for ITV viewers to plant as their own contribution to the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy initiative.
Freda Beckett, of New Whittington, Chesterfield, is donating her trees to a number of organisations including Neurocare, the charity that supports her son Steve following his lifesaving surgery for a brain aneurysm.
Steve, 35, had emergency surgery at the Hallamshire, Sheffield, seven years ago. He is still under the care of the team as he has another untreated aneurysm, but he is in good health. The hazel tree from Freda’s QCC pack will be planted at Neurocare’s base at the Northern General Hospital, Sheffield.
Freda said: “I felt a responsibility to make sure that the Queen’s trees were given to special areas of our local society and community where they could be remembered and looked after, as part of the Queen’s legacy.”
Marian Guy will be donating her trees to Clifton Park, Rotherham, where a ceremony will be held.
She said: “It’s a lovely, popular, people-friendly park with a museum, sports facilities and lots of children’s activities and hosts community events like the Rotherham Show and Bonfire Night. I’ve always loved trees so it will be lovely for the park to be part of the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy.”
Chairman of Friends Elaine Humphries said: “The whole community loves Clifton Park. It’s only two minutes from the town centre so is very well used. We already have lots of trees, including one planted to mark the coronation of Queen Victoria. To have trees that form part of this initiative will be fitting.”
Woodland Trust chief executive, Beccy Speight, who will be planting the first of the giveaway trees with Sainsbury’s colleagues at the charity’s Grantham headquarters on Tuesday, October 16, said: “We were thrilled when the packs were snapped up so quickly by ITV viewers. It’s testament to the high regard in which people hold both Her Majesty and trees. We’ve loved hearing the reasons people want to be part of this project and are honoured to be playing our part in extending the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy.
“Trees do so much for us. They improve soil health and water quality, reduce carbon, slow the flow of flood water, trap pollutants, shelter livestock, provide a home for wildlife and a space for us to breathe and reflect. I hope those who will be planting them next week will enjoy watching them flourish as part of this wonderful legacy initiative.”
Sainsbury’s CEO Mike Coupe said: “As the Woodland Trust’s largest corporate partner, we’re committed to raising awareness of the importance of the UK’s woods and trees, and contributing to their conservation.
“I was lucky enough to grow up surrounded by woods, so trees have a particular resonance with me. Sainsbury’s recently planted its three millionth tree with the Trust, and the thought of getting another 50,000 in the ground as part of the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy is an exciting prospect.”
ITV controller of factual, Jo Clinton Davis said: “ITV are proud and privileged to have commissioned this remarkable documentary that now has this unique and continuing legacy. We are thrilled that thanks to this exciting collaboration with our partners, our viewers have been given the opportunity to be part of The Queen's Commonwealth Canopy."
MPs across the country are also contributing to the QCC. The Trust, via the Rt Hon Frank Field MP who conceived the QCC initiative, has provided packs to more than politicians to be planted in their constituencies.