A domestic abuse charity has commemorated its anniversary with a tree planting event.
West Mercia Women’s Aid – which marked its 40th anniversary last year – planted a commemorative tree on Tuesday 17 January.
The oak tree – which was donated by Wyevale Nurseries – has been planted in Mill Street, Hereford.
West Mercia Women’s Aid provides safe shelter and support for women and children across the West Mercia region who are homeless, distressed or in danger as a consequence of domestic violence and abuse. The charity was founded 40 years ago by a small group of local women in Hereford who were keenly aware that there was no safe place nor help and support for women and children who were being abused in the home – that they were trapped and isolated with nowhere to turn. They lobbied and fought for recognition of the issue, and were able to find a building to rent which became the first local refuge from domestic abuse. Forty years on and West Mercia Women’s Aid is now a large local charity providing life-changing help and support to over three thousand women, and over a thousand children, every year.
The choice of an oak tree is symbolic as the oak is a common symbol of strength and endurance – something which is characterised by the women who started this work all those years ago, and which is continued now by WMWA’s Board of Trustees, by its staff and by its supporters – including one of its original founders. All were represented today at the tree’s planting in Mill Street, Hereford.
Guests at the event included Mo Burns & Geof Tarring from Herefordshire council who helped advise on – and secure – the tree planting site.
Clair de Groot, Chair of the Board of Trustees said: “The seeds we planted last year during our 40th anniversary have come full circle with the planting of this symbolic oak tree. It will serve as a legacy not just for the work we did in 2022 but all of our achievements in tackling the domestic violence and abuse of women and girls over the last 40 years. It is testament to the many survivors we have helped to find hope and live a better life, over all those years.”
Ian Wright, Commercial Sales Director for Wyevale Nurseries, said:
“We’re delighted to have donated an oak tree to West Mercia Women’s Aid in Hereford. Once established the tree will provide food and shelter for a wide range of wildlife, remove CO2 from the atmosphere as well as being aesthetically pleasing.”
The tree planting event also included the singing of a song commissioned specifically for the charity’s anniversary entitled ‘Still Strong’, performed by its choir which is made up of staff, survivors and supporters. The song will be officially launched with a music video on International Women’s Day on Wednesday 8 March.
CEO Sue Coleman said: “This event was a great opportunity to acknowledge our 40 years; we would like to thank all those who have supported us championing a future for women and girls that is bright, equal, safe and rewarding.”
West Mercia Women’s Aid works throughout Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Shropshire.
The 24 hour helpline numbers are:
0800 783 1359 (Herefordshire, Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin)
0800 980 3331 (Worcestershire)
0800 014 9082 (Male Domestic Abuse Helpline)
For further information visit www.westmerciawomensaid.org
For media comment please contact Sue Coleman, Chief Executive, West Mercia Women’s Aid on 01432 356 146
Editor’s notes : please contact Sally Langston on 07498 657645 or email email@example.com if you need any further information.