MORE than 550 native trees and shrubs have been planted across Coventry to commemorate the 550th anniversary of Sikh founder Guru Nanak.
A tree planting ceremony took place on November 4 at Longford Park, Foleshill, to mark the completion of the Guru Nanak Dev Ji Woodland.
Five native trees and shrubs have been planted throughout Coventry’s parks and green spaces including Northern Red Oak, Acer, Hazel, Common Hawthorn and Crab Apple.
And Jon Davis and Palvinder Singh Chana, Chairman, Sikh Union, unveiled a special tree plaque dedicated to Coventry being chosen as the third UK City of Culture 2021.
Lord Mayor of Coventry, Linda Bigham and Jon Davis, a senior producer with Coventry City of Culture Trust, were on hand, along with Lady Godiva, Pru Porretta and Sarah Pearson from the Woodland Trust to plant commemorative statement trees donated by the local community.
Linda Bigham, Lord Mayor of Coventry said: “The growing of a woodland in Longford Park, began when our family noticed a faded plaque within some trees, with the words, “Recognise all the human race as one” Guru Gobind Singh Ji.
“We went on to discover that 300 trees had been planted in 1999 by Sikh staff at Marconi as a contribution to the Millennium Forest.
“From these humble beginnings, a unique partnership has developed between the Friends of Longford Park, the Sikh Union, local school children, and the City Council’s Park Wardens.
“The last few years has seen the planting of a community orchard and 1500 new trees with under planting. This will now be added to by another 550 trees this year to celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji.”
Chenine Bhathena, creative director of Coventry City of Culture Trust, said: “Coventry City of Culture Trust is delighted to have a tree planted in our honour. We’re committed to creating projects in 2021 that celebrate and improve the city’s bio-diversity and offer residents opportunities to get outside and reconnect with our beautiful green spaces and wild life.
“We plan to be the most sustainable year of culture and offset our carbon footprint wherever possible. We look forward to continuing to work with the Sikh community in the run up to, during, and after 2021.”
Inspirational prayers initiated proceedings, along with dignitaries from local churches, Mandhirs (Hindu Temples) and Gurudwaras, with snacks and refreshments provided by local humanitarian aid organisation Langar Aid, Coventry.
Hundreds of pupils from Longford Park, Grange Hurst and Joseph Cash Primary Schools also helped to plant the saplings.
Jen Goode, deputy head, Longford Park Primary School, says: “Collaborating and working alongside the Sikh Union is a wonderful opportunity for the children to engage with the wider community.
“Our school backs onto Longford Park and the project continues to be a unique opportunity to educate the children about their local surroundings, while developing a new woodland area.”
It is part of a wider global effort by Eco-Sikh, an environmental organisation based in Washington, USA to plant over one million trees around the world to mark the birth-anniversary.
The event was planned in conjunction with Coventry council and the Park Service Rangers, the Sikh Union, along with The Friends of Longford Park, and a team of dedicated volunteers.