A tree of hope for Liam's family - and for the future

Torbay Weekly

Videographer Liam Meyer pauses to reflect on the tree he planted in the grounds of Torbay Hospital each time he passes it on his way to work .

He planted it with his mother in memory of his father, David, who he lost to COVID-19 last March.

During the pandemic, Liam set up a support group to help other families who had lost loved ones and were struggling even to grieve because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Liam has been providing grief support for hundreds of people through Facebook group Alone Together.

Staff in Torbay and South Devon working for the local NHS Foundation Trust have been awarded several grants from NHS Charities Together, since the start of the pandemic.

Funds awarded are used to improve people’s working environment and support the wellbeing of staff, patients, service users and visitors.

Most recently, 20 trees have been planted across the Torbay Hospital site, as a lasting symbol of life and hope for the future - Liam's was one.

Dave Parson, Head Gardener, chose species of native, broadleaf trees that are appropriate for the location and will encourage insects, birds and other animals.

Colleagues from across health and social care services came together  for a tree-planting ceremony. Trudi May, Wellbeing Lead said: "Trees can be really symbolic for remembrance and hope, but also contribute to our green spaces, which people appreciate more than ever."

Sanita Simadree, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Lead and Chair of the BAME Network also planted a tree and commented: "I was delighted to be involved. The tree I planted was for all our ethnic minority staff at the Trust, recognising their contribution during this pandemic, but also for my sister who was sadly taken by this awful virus."

John Harrison, Chief Operating Officer, summed up: "It is now two years since the coronavirus pandemic first hit the UK. It has affected all of us in so many different ways. We have been separated from our families, we have lost loved ones, we have experienced fear, isolation, anxiety, stress and exhaustion. But we have also come together as a work family and supported each other to get through extraordinary challenges.

"I will never forget the compassion and dedication of our colleagues. By planting these trees, we remember what we have all been through and create a space for reflection and wellbeing as we go forward with hope together."