Barbara Windsor, actress and Marylebone local, planted the last of 53 new pear trees to go into Weymouth Street today. The planting took place with the enthusiastic help of school girls from Queen’s College Prep School. They were joined by The Lord Mayor Locum Tenens, Councillor Harvey Marshall, who unveiled a ceremonial plaque for the occasion in front of many local volunteers and a gathering of well wishers from the community.
Commenting on the merits of the local Initiative, Barbara said: “As a local I’m delighted to be showing my support for this scheme. London is a magnificent city and it’s great to see a project that encourages people to take pride in their neighbourhood. This has given us an opportunity to make a real difference to the place in which we live.”
The text of the speech of Julian Maslinski, Chairman of Westminster Tree Trust, given at the event follows below:
Deputy Lord Mayor, Ladies and Gentlemen
I am Julian Maslinski, Chairman of Westminster Tree Trust.
A partnership between the Trust, the W1W Tree Planting Initiative – residents and businesses – and Westminster City Council has planted more than 100 trees in Marylebone since 2009 – 40 in Hallam Street, 53 here along Weymouth Street, and 8 in Great Portland Street.
Indeed, this is the third occasion in 18 months when we have enjoyed the privilege of a prominent public figure to plant one of our trees and mark a particular phase of the Initiative.
Our warmest thanks go to Barbara Windsor for most kindly taking time out from her extremely busy schedule and being with us here today. Barbara is a local resident.
We are most appreciative also to her husband, Scott Mitchell, for all his help towards making possible this very special occasion.
Trees not only can transform an area of hard urban character with, of course, their resplendent greenery, but also improve air quality, encourage biodiversity – in particular bird and insect life – reduce traffic noise, have a calming effect upon streets and reduce the temperature for pedestrians on hot summer days.
Our future plans now include the planting of a further 12 trees in Great Portland Street, up to 20 over Bolsover, Cleveland, Greenwell and Great Titchfield Streets, 60 along Devonshire Street and 60 in New Cavendish Street – all subject to local authority consents.
I will conclude by making a number of heartfelt thank yous.
First and foremost to Mark Gazaleh, a W1W resident, Trustee of Westminster Tree Trust and coordinator of The W1W Tree Planting Initiative. Mark’s individual commitment to and achievement in tree planting within the local community have been truly remarkable, and all on an entirely voluntary basis. He is indeed an environmental champion and without his considerable personal efforts we would not be here today.
Thank you also to all those many individuals, residents, residents’ associations, businesses and commercial organisations that have made such generous financial contributions towards this highly ambitious project.
Difficult as it is to single out particular donors from a very large list – The Princess Grace Hospital and The Harley Street Clinic, Groundwork London, The Howard de Walden Estate, Ridgeford Properties, The Langham London, James Taylor & Son and Bastows are but a few of our principal sponsors. Groundwork London works closely with both the Greater London Authority and the Forestry Commission.
Last, but most certainly not least, thank you to Westminster City Council, especially Paul Akers, Head of the Tree Section and colleague officers at City Hall, whose great efforts, expertise and dedication throughout have been absolutely crucial.
We are extremely grateful also to the Forestry Commission and The Royal Institute of British Architects.
The Forestry Commission and The Tree Council are major national players in tree planting. We are delighted that The Tree Council is represented here today.
And now, without further ado, I will request Barbara Windsor to say a few words.
The ceremony highlighted the plans of the W1W Tree Planting Initiative to plant hundreds of trees across our neighbourhood before the start of the 2012 London Olympics. Over 100 trees have already been planted on Weymouth Street, Hallam Street and Great Portland Street over the past year. A further 150 trees are expected to be planted in the Spring of 2011.
The Royal Institute of British Architects generously hosted the gathering afterwards for refreshments. This was much appreciated by all, and made a very important contribution to the success of the occasion. We also benefitted from the insight of a number of notable organisations – please see the video below.
The Initiative was delighted to receive favourable press coverage for the event. A small selection of which follows below.