Leeds boys sponsor tree at city's new Covid-19 memorial woodland in tribute to late grandpa

Two Leeds brothers are among the first to sponsor a tree in tribute to their late grandpa at the new Covid-19 memorial woodland in South Leeds.

Sunday, 7th November 2021, 4:45 pm

Joshua, 11, and Oliver Smith, 14, from Cookridge, lost their grandpa John - affectionately known by his middle name, Barry - to Covid-19 in November last year.

When plans were announced for The People’s Woodland, in Middleton, where 9,000 trees are set to be planted in memory of those lost in the city during the pandemic, the Smith family decided it was something they wanted to do in his memory.

The boys’ mum Natalie said sponsoring a tree is important to her, in helping to both remember her father and also to thank the NHS staff who looked after him.

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Joshua, 11, and Oliver Smith, 14, from Cookridge, lost their grandpa John - affectionately known by his middle name, Barry - to Covid-19 in November last year.

“It’s hard watching people move on with their lives as the restrictions have eased in the pandemic. It had a huge impact on our family and many others up and down the country.

“For us to have a dedicated space to go and pay tribute to my wonderful dad and come together with other people who have lost their loved ones means so much.”

Oliver said: “We loved spending time with our grandpa and always had so much fun with him - he meant the world to us.

“It was really hard when he was poorly in hospital and we couldn’t go and see him.

Covid Memorial Woodland in South Leeds Golf course. Pictured from left Lord Mayor Coun Asghar Khan, Giles Fretwell, Events Community Manager, Esther Wakeman CEO of Leeds Hospitals Charity, Coun Salma Arif and Leader of Leeds City Council Coun James Lewis. Picture: Gerard Binks

“We know there’s lots of families like ours that didn’t get to say goodbye properly and would love to have somewhere special to go and remember him.”

The People’s Woodland is led by Leeds Hospitals Charity in collaboration with Leeds City Council.

People can choose to sponsor a tree in tribute to a loved one, to thank NHS heroes, to celebrate a special occasion or to help create healthier city.

Sponsorship can be through a one-off donation or by fundraising together with friends and family.

All funds raised through the project will help the charity fund initiatives across the city’s NHS hospitals to help support staff, patients and their families.

Once established, The People’s Woodland will include a wetland, an orchard and a wildflower meadow as well as providing a place for visitors to exercise, rest, and enjoy the natural world - improving physical health and mental wellbeing.

The woodland also aims to have a positive environmental impact, helping to increase the biodiversity of the area and provide the variety of habitats needed for native wildlife.

Find out more and sponsor a tree here https://www.leedshospitalscharity.org.uk/woodlandSupport the YEP and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news and the latest on Leeds United, With a digital subscription, you see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click here to subscribe.