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Thorp House nursing home staff organise Covid memorial tree planting in Watton

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A memorial tree planting in Watton will commemorate lives lost to Covid while celebrating the dedication of key workers during the pandemic.

Staff at Thorp House nursing home, in Griston, which was affected by Covid early in the pandemic, have worked with Watton Town Council to put on the event at The Loch, Watton Sports Centre, in Dereham Road, from 11am to noon on Monday, August 23.

Local families who lost loved ones will be joined by invited guests, including Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman, Watton Mayor Jane Fountain and Breckland counsellors Tina Kiddell and Peter Wilkinson.

The Rev Michaela Sorensen, of St Mary’s Church, Watton, will bless the plum tree, which has been named the Tree of Hope and Perseverance, and a plaque will be unveiled.

Biodegradable petals with the names of residents who have passed away at Thorp House during the past 18 months will be scattered.
 
Marcia Hughes, activities coordinator at Kingsley Healthcare-run Thorp House, said: “All those who passed away during the lockdowns suffered by not having family with them or being isolated within the home and deserve to be remembered.”

She said they had decided to organise the event after seeing coverage of the opening of a memorial garden in Hadleigh, Suffolk.

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“I thought this was a really lovely and kind gesture to give people the space to reflect upon their thoughts and feelings at their own leisure,” she said.

The enclosed gardens at Thorp, although beautiful, were not suitable to build a memorial like the one at Hadleigh Nursing Home; instead she had the idea of a planting a memorial tree to provide something symbolic in a place of reflection.

She said: “I contacted Pat Warwick, the former mayor of Watton, and suggested the idea to her; she is the chairperson of The Loch and suggested it as an accessible place with the space to plant a tree.

“We chose a plum tree so it could provide free fruit to the public and also a food source for local wildlife too.”

It has been planted with bee mats – impregnated with wild flower seeds specifically chosen to attract bees - so it will continue to help wildlife and pollination in the future.

The plum tree is planted alongside bedding plants and a Himalayan honeysuckle that will grow into a large shrub. Next spring the bed will be planted with primroses, daffodils, tulips and wildflowers to maintain a year-round colour.

Mrs Hughes said: “The volunteers at the Loch, especially Phil Kibler who has done most of the work, have been incredibly supportive with local people offering more bedding plants.

“A local business, Kael’s Cupcakes, will provide all the canapes; when I spoke to the owner about the reasons why we were doing this, she was incredibly touched.

“It struck me that there are many workers in care and other sectors during the pandemic who have all struggled with the overwhelming burden and responsibility of working but without the recognition that the NHS has had.”

Find out more about Thorp House nursing home

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