An abandoned golf course in south Leeds is set to be transformed into a woodland as part of a project that will also help raise money for the NHS in the city.
The People’s Woodland will be located in Middleton and will be transformed into a wooded green space filled with 9000 trees by February 2022.
Leeds Hospitals Charity and Leeds City Council are calling on people to sponsor a tree as part of the fundraising initiative.
The money raised will support patients, families and staff across eight Leeds based NHS sites.
Sponsors can be made either by a one-off donation or through fundraising efforts.
Joanna Parker from Leeds Hospitals Charity said: “The scheme initially came about because of the impact COVID has had on people… but it grew into something more because we don’t want it to be somewhere very sad, we want it to be somewhere celebratory where people can go and reflect on their loved ones.
“Whilst it is quite hard to say specifically what the money will support, it can be anything from life-saving equipment to new research to help look into cancer or other diseases, to improve outcomes, to provide better mental health support for staff…
“It’s a really broad range of things.”
Reasons behind wanting to sponsor a tree can range from commemorating a loved one, celebrating a birthday or anniversary, thanking the NHS, or even to help tackle climate change.
However, Joanna said that this list is not restrictive: “I think this is a nice way for people to get involved in whatever way they want to – so whether they want to give that one-off donation for a tree, or if they want to fundraise with friends or family, it’s completely up to them.
“I think it’s very personal as well, which is a nice touch.”
Leeds boys, Joshua, 11, and Oliver Smith, 14, are some of the first people to sponsor a tree in memory of their grandpa.
They 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.”
Councillor Salma Arif, executive member for Public Health and Active Lifestyles at Leeds City Council, said: “This green space can become a real asset to the local community and Leeds alike. So we welcome any means of supporting its development.”
The emphasis of the woodland has not only been upon remembering, but also upon regeneration.
The site will be transformed into an environment people can visit and enjoy, which currently isn’t possible.
Middleton resident Zoe said: “I think it’s an excellent idea because the golf course is just wasted land at the moment.
“The course used to mainly be for adults, but the planting of trees will involve and include families instead of just older people.”
The saplings will start to be planted by the council in February 2022.
Those who sponsor a tree will then be informed of the area in which their tree is located, instead of being designated with one specifically.
If you would like to sponsor a tree or would like some more information, please visit www.leedshospitalscharity.org.uk/woodland or call 0113 539 7020.