First trees planted for Bury school's healing wood

Pupils at Howard Primary Academy plant the first of 3,000 for a healing wood on school grounds

Pupils at Howard Primary Academy plant the first of 3,000 for a healing wood on school grounds - Credit: Anglia Learning

Pupils from a Bury St Edmunds primary academy have planted the first of 3,000 new trees to create a healing wood in the school grounds. 

The students at Howard Community Academy planted the trees on Tuesday to create the reflective space - which will be open to the public, as well as staff and students, when complete. 

The school will also continue to work with Abbeycroft Leisure’s explore outdoor team to deliver further educational and wellbeing support programmes for the children at the school.

A total of 150 native Suffolk clayland tree species were planted, along with a 5ft oak tree as a symbol of the woods that will grow on the site.

The school said this eastern claylands species mix, provided by the Woodland Trust, was chosen to reflect native woodlands commonly found in Suffolk, comprising of hornbeam, wild cherry, crab apple, birch and oak. 

Pupils, staff and guests celebrate planting the first trees for the healing wood

Pupils, staff and guests celebrate planting the first trees for the healing wood - Credit: Anglia Learning

Alison Weir, headteacher at Howard Community Academy, said: “The children have really enjoyed planting the trees, and it’s important for them to understand about nature, wildlife, the climate and how they can look after themselves - this project involves all these things.

“We were honoured that the Reverend Val Gagen, a former governor of school, was part of today’s celebration by blessing the wood. Once opened, the space will be for the whole community, whatever your faith or culture.”

Alison Weir has been appointed as the new Headteacher at Howard Community Academy

Alison Weir, headteacher at Howard Community Academy - Credit: Howard Community Academy

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Richard Rout, deputy leader and cabinet member for finance and environment at Suffolk County Council, said: “It’s a real joy seeing the children get involved with planting trees and being part of something that is going to be loved and appreciated by generations to come.

“This project realises two commitments made by the council: to developing mental health support in Suffolk, and to establish healing woods as a memorial to those we have lost during the pandemic in Suffolk.

"We want to make nature accessible to everyone, to enjoy the mental health benefits of being in touch with natural environment.

“I’m proud that Suffolk County Council has been able to support this work at Howard Community Academy with planning and expertise – and I’d like to thank the children and the school’s staff, and colleagues at the Woodland Trust for making this possible.”

Esther Rosewarne, landscape partnerships manager at the Woodland Trust, said: “It’s fantastic when so many partners come together and provide the local community with trees.

"Not only are trees a natural solution to removing carbon from the atmosphere as we all tackle climate change, but they will create a new habitat for wildlife.

“Our MOREwoods scheme has funded these trees, and I’m delighted that such a significant tree planting has involved local children, to help them understand the importance of tree cover across the UK."