There are exciting plans underway to develop a new woodland area in Middleton, South Leeds, which will open to the public in spring 2022.

The People’s Woodland will see over 9,000 trees planted to create a new green space is led by Leeds Hospitals Charity in collaboration with Leeds City Council.

People from our local communities can choose to sponsor a tree in the woodland through a one-off donation or by fundraising together with friends and family.

All funds raised through this project will help the charity fund initiatives across our NHS hospitals in Leeds to support our NHS heroes, patients and families.

One of the first families to sponsor a tree is Smith family, from Cookridge. 11-year-old Joshua and 14-year-old Oliver. Their grandpa, John, affectionately known by his middle name Barry, died after contracting COVID-19 and the family wanted to do something special to remember him.

The boys lost their 76-year-old grandpa in November last year and found it difficult spending their first Christmas without him. Joshua and Oliver said:

“We loved spending time with our Grandpa and always had so much fun with him, he meant the world to us. It was really hard when he was poorly in hospital and we couldn’t go and see him. We know there’s lots of other families like ours that didn’t get to say goodbye properly and would love to have somewhere special to go and remember them.”

Oliver and Joshua’s mum Natalie recognizes the importance of sponsoring a tree, both to remember her father and to thank the NHS staff who looked after him, she says:

“It’s hard watching people move on with their lives as the restrictions have eased in the pandemic, it had a huge impact on our family and many others up and down the country. For us to have a dedicated space to go and pay tribute to my wonderful dad and come together with other people who have lost their loved ones means so much.”

Individuals can choose their own special reason to sponsor a tree, whether it’s in tribute to a loved one, to thank our NHS heroes, celebrate a special occasion or to help create a healthier city.

Once established, The People’s Woodland will include a wetland, an orchard and a wildflower meadow. It will provide a space for visitors to exercise, rest, and enjoy the natural world, not only to improve physical health, but also mental wellbeing.

The woodland will also have a positive environmental impact, helping to increase the biodiversity of the area and provide the variety of habitats needed for native wildlife.

Esther Wakeman, Chief Executive of Leeds Hospitals Charity said:

“We’re delighted to be working in partnership with Leeds City Council on this wonderful initiative. ‘The People’s Woodland’ will create a new space where our local communities can come together to enjoy the outdoors and also feel-good knowing that they’ve supported their local NHS hospitals by sponsoring a tree.”

Councillor Salma Arif, executive member for Public Health and Active Lifestyles at Leeds City Council said:

“We hope that this woodland will create a space for people, whether it’s to pay their respects to those that sadly lost their lives during the pandemic, reflect and appreciate the key workers that worked tirelessly during this time or another special reason.This green space can become a real asset to the local community and Leeds alike. So we welcome any means of supporting its development.”

By sponsoring a tree in The People’s Woodland, you can not only make a difference across our NHS hospitals in Leeds but also help create a new green space in our amazing city.

Find out more and sponsor a tree here