The first 4000 trees have gone in the ground as a woodland extension adjacent to seventeen acres of ancient woodland and open ground on the outskirts of Keighley, West Yorkshire. The site has been named Captain Tom’s Memorial Wood in honour of the Centenarian charity fundraiser.
Nestled on the banks of the North Beck, between the historic hamlets of Laycock and Goose Eye near Captain (Sir) Tom’s childhood home, the extension saw the planting of nearly 4000 hedgerow trees and shrubs, including hawthorn, hazel, and field maple.
Planting for the site was funded by TreesforTom set up by Lucy, Tom’s eldest daughter after he passed away. It will start on small pockets of new woodland and individual trees across three meadows to retain key areas of open space and the existing views at the site, originally known as Holme House Wood after being acquired by the Woodland Trust in 1991.
Denser areas of tree planting will be carried out to buffer and protect the existing irreplaceable ancient woodland.
Captain Tom, who raised £38m for NHS charities by walking laps of his garden during the first coronavirus lockdown, died at the age of 100 in February.
The Queen led tributes, praising “the inspiration he provided for the whole nation and others across the world”.
Species planted at Captain Tom’s Memorial Woodland will include oak, rowan, alder, hawthorn, blackthorn, hazel, field maple, crab apple, dog rose and guelder rose – and the site will be plastic-free.
Sir Tom’s famous motto, ‘Tomorrow will be a good day’ will be engraved on a semi-circular seat near an existing drystone wall looking out over the meadow.
The wood, a site of special interest because of its rich ground flora, has great displays of bluebells in spring and iconic bird species such as sparrow hawk, great spotted woodpecker, and on occasion visitors will spot kingfishers making their way along the beck.
Fellow Yorkshireman and site manager Alistair Nash, Woodland Trust said: “It’s an honour to rename and extend this beautiful site in tribute to a great Yorkshireman.
“Sir Tom was concerned about what the future holds for his grandchildren and the negative impact we are having on our planet. We hope this wood will be a fitting memorial to Sir Tom and will inspire people from across the UK, to protect and cherish the natural environment whilst enjoying all the splendour this site has to offer.”
The site falls within the White Rose Forest, the community forest for North and West Yorkshire part of the Northern Forest, where the Trust and Community Forest partners plan to plant over 50 million trees from Hull to Liverpool. Planting at the site and other works will begin in March 2022 and should hopefully be finished by Autumn 2022. This site, as with all owned by the Woodland Trust will have free public access.