Tree Preservation Orders (TPO) are used to preserve trees or woodlands with particular value to their local community and ecology. When one is felled, either accidentally or deliberately, the landowner has a duty to replace it, under careful guidance from the local council.
Such trees are often located in places of importance to the local community, such as one tree at St Andrew’s Church in Hornchurch. This was a second-generation TPO tree, with the original tree that gained the TPO having been replaced some decades ago. When Storm Eunice struck in February 2022 the impact was instant, with the highest wind speed ever recorded in England, at 122 miles per hour. The relatively young TPO tree at St Andrew’s didn’t stand a chance and was uprooted by the winds.
Hearing of this, Thames Chase Trust aimed to help in the replacement of this tree. TPOs are an important part of keeping the spirit of a community for generations, providing a sense of stability and reliance. A young Walnut was selected and, in April, delivered to St Andrew’s Church for planting.
Attending the planting session for St Andrew’s Church was Revd. Ken Wylie, Revd. Sonia Groombridge, Mike Pearce, and Andrew Insole, with Alex Hewitt attending for Thames Chase Trust. Mike and Andrew had already done the hard work of digging the hole, leaving Alex and Revd Sonia the more enjoyable task of planting the tree!
After ensuring the tree was secure, Revd. Sonia gave words in memoriam of those for whom the original tree was planted, placing the plaque at the new tree’s base. She also spoke of the importance of trees, how they offer food and shelter to animals and people, and their ability to provide a space for reflection. A blessing was given by Revd. Sonia, blessing the tree and all those who may come to look at its beauty in the fullness of time. Passages reiterating human’s need for trees were read, denoting the interlinked nature of people and their environment. To take care of one, you must take care of the other.
All those gathered stood in reflection for a time, in quiet thought, before Revd. Sonia thanked Thames Chase Trust for their support in replacing the tree. The session was then completed, and another right tree was planted in the right place.