FALLEN heroes are to be honoured at a new remembrance wood.
Families of service personnel who have lost their lives in Iraq or Afghanistan will be able to dedicate an oak tree to their loves ones at the beauty spot in Plawsworth Gate, near Durham City.
Currently under construction, the 10-acre Patriot Wood at the site of a disused quarry will also include a memorial garden for members of the Armed Forces killed in other conflicts.
The park is the brainchild of ex-Royal Artillery gunner Richie Fox, who runs military charity Homeless Heroes, and Janice Murray, whose son was killed in Iraq.
“Families will be able to have a plaque on one of the trees dedicated to their loved ones,” said Richie. “It is for service personnel who are from the North East and who have died in the last 10 years.
“Because of local planning laws, we can only plant so many trees. We would love to have one for every member of the Armed Forces killed in the conflicts, which is our ultimate aim, but that would be subject to planning permission.
“However, there will also be a memorial garden where people can dedicate a rose bush or bench to a relative.
“People can make a donation to the cost if they like, but that will be up to the individual.
“We are trying to accommodate as many families as we can.”
Richie, from Easington Colliery, spent six years in the Royal Artillery as a gunner and went on to become a businessman after leaving the Army at 22.
He launched his North East-based charity, which is unconnected with the park project, in a bid to help former members of the Armed Forces who are suffering problems such as poverty, homelessness and mental health issues. Janice, from Washington, whose 18-year-old son Michael Tench was killed in Iraq in 2007, said she hoped fund-raisers and businesses would also help support the park.
The first tree planted at the site will be dedicated to the private.
“We’re hoping people will really get behind the project and give us their support,” she said.
“We’re trying to keep the cost down, about £40 a plaque.
“It will include details like their name, rank and regiment.
“All sponsors and funds are welcome, but we’re also appealing for people to give us their old clothes, which we can sell on.
“Schools and community groups can also get involved in collections and sponsorship and they will receive a plaque at the base of the tree.’’
For more information about the project or to make a donation, phone 386 6301, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.