Sea Cadets and Royal Marines Cadets joined members of the RNA to plant trees in memory of sailors who died at the Battle of Jutland.
Some 60 cadets assisted Association members and guests, including a group from Central Office, plant the final 400 saplings and 14 specimen trees on a 640-acre site at Langley Vale, close to Epsom racecourse in Surrey.
That brings the total of trees in the Jutland Wood to more than 6,000, each one representing a sailor who died in a Royal Navy ship at the clash in the North Sea on 31 May to 1 June 1916. The 14 specimen trees each represent a Royal Navy ship that was sunk in the encounter.
Though the day of the planting was chilly, with clouds scudding across the sky, the rain held off while the final trees were planted on former arable land.
Those taking part included former Second Sea Lord Admiral David Steel (who is also an ambassador for the Woodland Trust and a Vice President of the Marine Society Sea Cadets), RNA National President S/M John McAnally, RNA General Secretary S/M Bill Oliphant and his predecessor S/M Paul Quinn and RNA National Chairman S/M Keith Ridley – and, of course, ace photographer and RNA Assistant General Secretary S/M Nigel Huxtable, who took the accompanying images.
The RNA thanked everyone who turned up to help, and we look forward to seeing your photographs of the wood as it grows over the coming decades – a fitting place to visit or to walk and reflect on a family member lost to the grey waters of the North Sea or just to spend some time surrounded by nature.
The Jutland Wood is part of the Centenary Wood initiative by the Woodland Trust to mark 100 years since the First World War.
England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland each have their own wood, with the Langley Vale site incorporating 144 acres of existing ancient woodland. In all some 200,000 native broadleaf trees will be planted, including oak, beech, alder, hawthorn and wild cherry.
Each summer the wood will be painted red with the blooming of Flanders poppies, which with other wildflowers will attract and support insects.
Langley Vale is just south of Epsom racecourse, close to Tadworth and Tattenham Corner stations.
The Northern Irish wood is at Brackfield, in Faughan Valley, close to Ness Country park between Londonderry and Claudy, Dreghorn Woods is in the Pentland Hills on the southern fringe of Edinburgh while the Welsh wood is at Coed Ffos Las, near the village of Carway north-west of Llanelli.