This long love of trees led me to Langley Vale Wood, in Surrey, which the Woodland Trust is planting with 200,000 saplings to mark the 100th anniversary of the First World War. It’s a wonderful place: there are bluebell-carpeted swathes of ancient woodland, and grassy areas ripe for picnicking. It might feel remote, but it isn’t – if you look north you can just about see the Wembley Arch.
Personal connections with Langley Vale
Langley’s historical significance is particularly poignant for us. Emma’s great-great-uncle, Lord Kitchener, inspected 20,000 troops on nearby Epsom Downs, and delivered a rousing speech as they went off to fight on the Western Front. To remember them, we’ll be planting an acre of trees in the Trust’s centenary wood.
My own family lost several people in the First World War. My grandfather succumbed to meningitis in the trenches aged 29; one great-uncle died of his wounds; and a great-aunt’s ship was torpedoed. The war touched the lives of that entire generation. That’s why this commemorative tree-planting drive struck a chord with me. It seems such a fitting tribute: like the men and women they stand for, these trees are dignified, life-giving, vital.