Shropshire Council event to Remember Srebrenica

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Shropshire Council is marking Remembering Srebrenica Day on 11th July 2021, through a special cherry tree dressing ceremony at Shirehall in Shrewsbury on Tuesday 6th July 2021. This will be conducted with members of the armed forces and Shropshire Council councillors, as part of the Armed Forces Covenant, along with the local interfaith forums and children from Mereside CofE Primary School.

The Lord Lieutenant of Shropshire, Anna Turner, has also agreed to come along to the ceremony, where a candle will be lit and prayers will be said by people representing the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths. Thanks will be given to the armed forces representatives for the role that local armed forces played in the liberation of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in World War Two, and their role in humanitarian efforts in Bosnia.

The event forms part of the ongoing work between the Council, the interfaith forums, and schools, helping local children to learn about the Holocaust and other genocides in ways that are age appropriate and to understand the importance of different faiths working together. The focus of our work is the creation of a cherry tree orchard of remembrance across the county.

In planting these cherry trees, our aim is to provide a fitting memorial for those who survived the Holocaust and other genocides, and for those who did not, and for our orchard to grow with local children and local communities and spread a message of peace.

It is timely to take this opportunity to mark the humanitarian efforts of our armed forces in Bosnia as part of Remembering Srebrenica activities. It will be lovely to see this cherry tree flourish and provide a legacy of the importance of everyone working together so that the lessons of the Holocaust and other genocides are not forgotten, and so that we all play our part in seeking to ensure that they do not happen again. .

This year, our County Arboriculturalist, John Blessington, kindly offered not only a tree for our chosen primary school, but also a tree for planting outside Shirehall, as part of the Community Tree Scheme. He then planted them for us in February, given pandemic restrictions, and will assist with the tree dressing ceremony at Shirehall.

Mereside School

We identify a primary school each year, where the tree for that year is planted in a special ceremony on or around Holocaust Memorial Day on 27th January. We are seeking to spread the orchard across the county and to cover all points of the compass in so doing.

For Mereside C of E Primary Academy, where the very first cherry tree in the memorial orchard was planted in 2015, the Day was the focus for a number of interlinked activities. Ffion Carr, Assistant Principal, told us that the children studied the online resources and Year 6 children wrote a poem. They read the poem around the tree when they went out to measure it: it is now around 2m 95cm, with hundreds of buds on it.

Each child chose a person to remember and they did illustrations with the person’s name on it with candles and “we will remember” on them. The children then displayed their work in their windows at home that evening, with a candle to remember them.

A short video has been produced and kindly shared by the school, for which the link is as follows. It is also on the school website.

As well as marking HMD itself through online events and resources, and lighting of candles, the Council is taking this opportunity to mark the more recent genocide in Srebrenica, for which the 2021 theme is “Rebuilding Lives”. This builds on the January online resources researched for us by Shropshire Archives.

There are two cherry trees for 2021, one of which was planted in the north east at our chosen school for that area, Longlands primary school in Market Drayton. A tree dressing ceremony is currently being organised with Longlands and their local Shropshire Council councillor, Cllr Roy Aldcroft.

This follows on from the planting in 2020 of two trees at two rural federated schools in the south west, Onny and Lydbury North.

This brings the total number of trees to 14 at the moment, with flowers and fruit on the first trees.

Additional Details

Region - West Midlands

Organiser Name - Shropshire Council

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