Below is the text of the speech given by the Leader of Hampshire County Council, Ken Thornber in Endeavour School in Andover, prior to the planting. It gives the background to the event.
Your Royal Highness, Lord-Lieutenant and distinguished guests, it is with great pleasure and pride that I welcome you to this, the County Council’s Endeavour Primary School, to celebrate the start of the planting of Hampshire’s Diamond Woods and the success of the Woodland Trust’s Diamond Jubilee project.
Hampshire is blessed with exceptional areas of woodland including the New Forest National Park. However, some of the urban areas of Hampshire have limited access to public woodland and it has been a long held ambition of the County Council to increase our high-quality woodlands to serve the towns of Andover and Basingstoke and the urban areas to the east of Southampton.
With the launch of the Woodland Trust’s Diamond Woods Campaign in Hampshire and the encouragement of Dame Mary as part of her coordination of the Jubilee celebrations, the County Council has embarked on an extensive program of planting across the County. This has included the planting of oak saplings in over 350 schools, over 120 oak trees supplied to Town and Parish Councils for planting in public areas, the planting of additional oak trees as part of the collection of oaks at the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, and the creation of 100 acres of new woodland here in Andover, at Manydown to the west of Basingstoke and at Manor Farm Country Park, east of Southampton.
In a few minutes, we will move the short distance to the site of the new Andover Woodland which we hope to be able to call Queen Elizabeth II Woods. We are grateful for the considerable help which we have been given in delivering this project, notably from the Woodland Trust and Forestry Commission, Test Valley Borough Council, the staff and pupils of the Endeavour School, the Augusta Park Community Centre and Andover Trees United, a school-based community group. This new look woodland will be of major importance to school children in Andover, particularly those from the adjoining schools such as the Endeavour School, as well as to the local community which will be expanding as new housing is built up towards the woodland site.
I am delighted that Mrs Tracey Kirk has been able to join us today as her late husband David was a close colleague of mine and in his time as Executive Member for Children’s Services, he worked tirelessly to improve the educational and recreational opportunities for children in Hampshire. This project fits exactly with his aspirations and I am pleased that part of the woodland is to be named the David Kirk Copse.
Another part of the woodland will be known as the Nelson Dance Copse as a reflection of the Nelson Dance family who supported the woodland planting proposals by their sale of the land to the County Council. Thanks also to Andrew Hughes, who previously farmed the land, who is a past BBC ‘Farmer of the Year’ and who has assisted in the preparation of the field for planting.
I am grateful for the support of all the people and organisations we have worked with to create this wonderful growing asset which will be a legacy across Hampshire to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s exceptional reign. My thanks also to the County Council staff involved in making this the largest contribution to the Diamond Wood project of any County Council in the UK.
Ma’am, may I thank you for your presence today. I know that the Governors, staff and children are delighted to welcome you to their school, of which we are all so proud. The children are looking forward to their part in planting some of this woodland.
May I now invite Laura Parry to respond on behalf of the Woodland Trust
(Laura Parry then spoke on behalf of the Woodland Trust)
Ma’am, Dame Mary and distinguished guests, I would like to invite you to move to the site of the new woodland. This is some 400 meters away and you have a choice of transport across the field by minibus, by a tractor and trailer or walking across the track way to the woodland site.
Invitation to the Princess Royal to plant first tree
Your Royal Highness, it gives me great pleasure to invite you to plant the first of over 13,000 thousand trees which will form the basis of the Diamond Wood in Andover. Additionally, I would be delighted to call upon Wendy Davis and the pupils from schools across Andover to present to you a project scrapbook which they have compiled for Queen Elizabeth II.
Ma’am, after you have planted the first tree, pupils will carry out the initial planting of their seven-acre part of the Diamond Woodland.