Holocaust Memorial Day cherry tree planting ceremonies this Monday
Shropshire Council is continuing collective endeavours to ensure that local primary school children learn about the Holocaust and other genocides, and that these are never forgotten, through growing a cherry tree orchard of remembrance across Shropshire.
We are planting our next memorial cherry trees in the south west of the county on the morning of Monday 27 January 2020, in special interfaith ceremonies. This will bring the total number of such trees in Shropshire to 12. Monday is national Holocaust Memorial Day, and marks 75 years since the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.. The theme is ‘Stand Together’.
Two cherry trees will be planted on the morning of Monday 27 January, one at Onny School at around 10.15am and one at Lydbury North School at around 11.15am, one from Shropshire Council and one from the South Shropshire Interfaith Forum. The schools together form the St Michael’s Federation and take trees as their theme, growing together, making it a very apt choice for 2020.
We will once again be supported by Mereside School, where the first cherry tree was planted in 2015, and will return to Mereside in the afternoon for a ceremony with Shrewsbury Interfaith Forum, South Shropshire Interfaith Forum, and Jane Mackenzie and Tony Parsons, local Shropshire Councillors for Bayston Hill, Column and Sutton. The Mereside tree was measured by the children in 2019 as being 2.9 metres at that time.
Gwilym Butler, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for communities, place planning and regulatory services, said:
“The planting of these two memorial cherry trees in Onibury and in Lydbury North marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, as well as providing us all with the opportunity to reflect upon the Holocaust and other genocides, and to play our part in seeking to ensure such inhumanities are never forgotten.
“It comes at a time when it has perhaps never been more important for us to stand together and work together to promote respect for each other’s beliefs and to be kind to one another. It is my hope that every child involved in the 2020 ceremonies in the south west, at the first tree planted at Mereside in 2015, and in any other ceremonies in schools across the county, will take these lessons to heart and grow up to help make this world a better place.”
Ruth Houghton (Bishop’s Castle) and David Evans (Church Stretton and Craven Arms), local Shropshire Councillors for the areas in which the schools operate, said:
“The theme of ‘Stand Together’ is very apt for us a council, as we seek to work together across our communities. We are delighted that the St Michaels Federation of Onny and Lydbury North schools has been chosen as the twin location for these two trees, recognising the importance of rural schools at the heart of their communities.
“We are very much looking forward to helping to plant the trees, and to seeing what work the children have been doing around this theme. It will be good to also hear from the South Shropshire Interfaith Forum about their related artwork project around the cherry tree leaf motif, created by the Forum with local Syrian refugee children, which was chosen as one of the ’75 Flames’ artworks to be exhibited at the national ceremony taking place in London.”
In addition to the ceremonies a display in the foyer at Shirehall, Shrewsbury has been set up and will run through to Wednesday 29 January 2020.
For 2020, the national theme is ’Stand Together’.
The local background here is that Shropshire Council is continuing efforts to grow a cherry tree orchard of remembrance across Shropshire, working with primary and secondary schools, with Shrewsbury Interfaith Forum and South Shropshire Interfaith Forum, and with local Shropshire Councillors. We identify a primary school each year, and are seeking to spread the orchard across the county and to cover all points of the compass in so doing. The schools for 2020 represent the south and west of the county.
The orchard had a growth spurt in 2016, when we were also able to provide for five secondary schools to have trees as well, through the Incredible Edible project running that year. Having begun in the centre in 2015, with Mereside C of E School, we have planted in the north at Woodside Academy in Oswestry, and in the south at Bishop Hooper School in Ashford Carbonell, where a second tree, kindly donated by the South Shropshire Interfaith Forum, had to be planted in 2018 after rabbits ate the first one. The tree for the centre and west of the county was planted at Trinity CofE in Ford in 2018. The 2019 tree was planted at St Peter’s CofE School in Wem, representing the north and east of the county.
South Shropshire Interfaith Forum, with whom Shropshire Council works closely on ways to commemorate the Holocaust and other genocides, was successful in a bid to see artwork selected for a national exhibition to mark 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz. This will be in London on Holocaust Memorial Day, Monday 27 January 2020.
The artwork was produced by local children from Syrian refugee families settled in Shropshire, at a family event held at the mosque in Craven Arms. It takes the cherry tree leaf as its motif in recognition of the work that the South Shropshire Interfaith Forum and the Shrewsbury Interfaith Forum carry out with the council and local primary schools to plant a memorial cherry tree every year in Shropshire. It comprises painted leaves that together form a flame, over a map of Shropshire.
Schools that are planning activities are asked to contact the council, in order that local Shropshire Councillors might lend their support on the day and in order that a full round up might then be possible to share at national level. This does not have to be confined to the next fortnight. For example, Woodside School in Oswestry, where the 2016 tree was planted, held their 2019 ceremony on Wednesday 12 June 2019, to mark the 90th anniversary of the birth of Anne Frank. The tree bears a plaque with a quote from Anne Frank.
For more information about the 2020 theme, please see resources on the HMD Trust website at www.hmd.org.uk