NECA Community Garden plants tree which was a gift from the Queen

A tree given to a South Tyneside charity as a gift by the late Queen Elizabeth has been planted at a ceremony in South Shields.

Mayor of South Tyneside, Cllr Pat Hay, attended the “Tree of Trees” planting ceremony at NECA Community Garden at the allotments in Brockley Avenue, which was bedded with help from pupils from the nearby Holy Trinity Academy.

Tree of Trees was the name of a sculpture made up of 350 British native trees, erected and illuminated outside Buckingham Palace to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. It stood for four days outside the palace in June.

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The trees have now been distributed to deserving organisations. A rowan was gifted to NECA via the Lord Lieutenancy of Tyne and Wear.

Volunteers from NECA attended the ceremony with, from left, Norman Richardson chair of NECA, Tyne and Wear deputy Lord Lieutenant Susan Wear, Mayor of South Tyneside Cllr Pat Hay, Mayoress Jean Copp and council leader Cllr Tracey Dixon.

The charity improves the lives of individuals and communities across the North East. Since 1974 they have supported and enabled thousands of people to battle substance and gambling misuse.

In 2021 they were presented with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the UK’s highest charity award, by the late monarch’s daughter-in-law the Countess of Wessex during a visit to South Shields.

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The award panel said the garden was “an oasis in the heart of the community providing a safe and exciting learning environment”.

Also at the planting ceremony was leader of South Tyneside Council, Cllr Tracey Dixon, deputy Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear Susan Wear and Norman Richardson, chair of NECA.

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The gift of the tree is in recognition of the work of NECA. From left, Tyne and Wear deputy Lord Lieutenant Susan Wear, Mayor of South Tyneside Cllr Pat Hay, Mayoress Jean Copp and council leader Cllr Tracey Dixon.

Mayor Pat Hay said: “It was wonderful to join the volunteers at NECA Community Garden for this special tree planting ceremony in recognition of the outstanding contribution they make to their local community.

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“This beautiful tree is one of hundreds from the ‘Tree of Trees’ an incredible sculpture that was created to celebrate Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and stood as a message of hope, regeneration and optimism.

“It has now been gifted and planted in South Tyneside in her memory as a lasting tribute and living legacy to be nurtured and enjoyed for generations to come.”

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David Johnson from NECA Community Garden said: “When they rang me up from the Lord Lieutenant’s office saying we were getting a tree it was absolutely amazing.

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“The organisation and the volunteers were over the moon. We got a letter too back in March with the Queen’s signature on it.”