First-of-its-kind memorial forest created by Yorkshire Ambulance Service to remember Covid victims

Yorkshire Ambulance Service has created a memorial forest with over 2,000 trees to remember those who lost their lives during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Photo: Left to right - Aileen Stables, Alexis Percival, Alana Westwood, Rod BarnesPhoto: Left to right - Aileen Stables, Alexis Percival, Alana Westwood, Rod Barnes
Photo: Left to right - Aileen Stables, Alexis Percival, Alana Westwood, Rod Barnes

Located at Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust’s Fairfields site in York, the first-of-its-kind forest aims to provide a scenic and tranquil area for colleagues to visit and remember those who lost their lives.

The project is supported by the YAS Charity and includes 2,175 trees kindly donated by NHS Forest which have been planted across the Fairfields site, as well as a pond, meadow area, hibernacula (frog and newt hibernation space), bug hotels and refuges for lots of smaller animals.

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It is also an area that can be used by staff to sit and walk in when they need some respite from their busy and challenging duties.

Phil Storr, Chair of the YAS Charity, said: “I am very proud the YAS Charity is able to support such a worthwhile initiative that will benefit our dedicated staff and their families through providing an attractive outdoor space for them to use.

“The Charity aims to engage communities and support colleagues and volunteers, and this development should do both, as well as support the Trust in becoming more environmentally friendly.”

The memorial forest will provide space for biodiversity as well as carbon offsetting to help YAS and other healthcare organisations support future generations through the Greener NHS Programme, which will contribute to the Trust becoming net zero in the future.

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Alexis Percival, Environmental and Sustainability Manager, said: “We are committed to tackling climate change and the ecological emergency. The biodiversity on this site is very broad, but we are still looking to improve it.

“By installing a pond, we will improve the environment for the Tansy Beetle, a little-known insect that can only be found in York, so, we are looking to create an idyllic space not only for our staff, but for the environment as a whole.”

Work started on the site in February with the initial preparation being completed by working groups from Yorkshire-based disability charity Open Country, which supports people with a wide range of physical and sensory impairments, learning disabilities, or mental ill-health.

The planting of over 2,000 trees was then undertaken by a team of staff volunteers.