Oak trees have been planted in Manchester’s cemeteries to remember people who have died in the COVID-19 pandemic and those who have helped protect the city.
The ‘beacon’ trees are intended as a lasting legacy of an extraordinary period and they will live for generations as a tribute both to those coronavirus took too soon and the many Mancunians who selflessly did their bit to treat patients, support those in need and limit the virus’ spread.
While small in stature now, the oaks should live for hundred of years and are located in prominent positions in the city’s five cemeteries: Southern Cemetery, Philips Park Cemetery, Blackley Cemetery, Gorton Cemetery and Manchester General (Harpurhey) Cemetery.
A dedication stone at the foot of each tree reads:
“This oak tree, chosen for its beauty and strength, is dedicated on behalf of bereavement services to the people of Manchester.
“We remember those who lost their lives in the COVID-19 Pandemic.
“We honour the residents, workers and volunteers who protected our great city.”
The trees are part of the Council’s £1m citywide Tree Action MCR programme, which will see hundreds of new trees planted around Manchester as part of its response to combatting climate change.
More COVID beacon trees, including other species such as ginkgos, will also be planted elsewhere in the city through the scheme as well as street trees and community orchards.
“Cemeteries are already a place of remembrance and contemplation,” said Councillor Luthfur Rahman.
“On this national day of reflection it is right that we mark the pandemic period, honouring those we have lost but also some of the remarkable efforts people have made to protect their city and their communities.”
Oak trees are recognised as “a symbol of strength and endurance,” said Councillor Angeliki Stogia.
“These trees will be a poignant reminder of the challenging times we have been through together, the losses but also some of the inspirational tales, for very many years to come.
“Trees are remarkable and that is why we are determined to further add to the city’s tree cover.”