Deputy mayor steps in to mark first Covid-19 memorial tree in Havering

Joint photo

The ceremony on January 24 saw speeches made by attendees including Cllr Christine Vickery, Cllr Damian White and BHRUT chief executive Matthew Trainer. - Credit: Havering Council

Dignitaries, politicians and NHS staff came together to plant a Covid-19 memorial tree outside a major Romford hospital.  

A cherry tree was planted on the green outside Queen’s Hospital maternity ward on January 24 in order to honour NHS staff and social care providers who have worked tirelessly through the pandemic.  

Planted by Darren Mitchell, Dan Byrne and John Rollings from City Suburban, the ceremony was part of Havering Council’s Covid commemoration project, which will see plantings across the borough and a woodland of over 4,000 trees brought to Hornchurch Country Park.  

City Suburban

City Suburban employees were on hand to ensure the cherry tree was planted correctly. - Credit: Chantelle Billson

Representatives of the council and Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT) attended the ceremony alongside Cllr Christine Vickery, Cllr Damian White and BHRUT chief executive Matthew Trainer.


Cllr Christine Vickery stood in for the mayor at the tree planting ceremony on Monday, January 24. - Credit: Chantelle Billson

BHRUT chaplin Tony Minter blessed the tree and Havering's deputy mayor Cllr Christine Vickery gave a speech on the impact of the pandemic.  

She said: “The mayor of Havering, Cllr John Mylod, could not be here today but he also wishes to pass on his thanks.  

“He is currently at home recovering from Covid-19 after receiving critical care here at the Queen’s Hospital just over one month ago.”  

Cllr Vickery then spoke of her own experience: “I also know first-hand of the support and dedication of NHS workers here at Queen’s Hospital having been hospitalised with Covid-19 before Christmas. It’s thanks to the dedication and care of all the staff - from cleaners, caterers, receptionists, doctors and nurses - that I am on my way to a full recovery. 

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“So, it’s a special honour and an expression of my gratitude to thank NHS staff and frontline health workers as we all reflect on the recent challenging times.” 


BHRUT chief executive Matthew Trainer is pleased the location of Queen's Hospital was chosen for the planting of the first tree. - Credit: Chantelle Billson

Mr Trainer said while the tree provides “quiet reflective space”, it also recognises the "sacrifices made by NHS staff”.  

He added: “The resilience and dedication of our staff throughout the pandemic has been remarkable and we’re grateful that Havering Council has chosen to plant a commemorative tree at Queen’s Hospital."


Cllr Damian White said the tree provides a place of remembrance and commemoration to all the lives that have been lost to Covid, people who have been impacted by it and the NHS staff and social care workers who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic. - Credit: Chantelle Billson

Leader of Havering Council, Cllr Damian White, said: “Without the efforts of everyone in the public sector, things could have been so different, not just in Havering, but across the country and we owe an eternal debt of gratitude to those that have made getting to this point possible.” 


A plaque to display the purpose of the tree, which will be installed at a later date, was handed to Matthew Trainer by Cllr Damian White. - Credit: Chantelle Billson