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20 April 2011 

PhotobucketA new oak tree was planted in New Ferry Park on Tuesday 19th April 2011 in a ceremony to honour soldiers from the local Merseyside area.  A new bench, one of a number of new benches in the park, was also dedicated to their sacrifice.

The bench, which bears a plaque dedicated to those killed and wounded like Wirral soldier Pte Danny Oxley who lost three limbs in an IED explosion, was presented by the New Ferry Friends of the Park and the New Ferry Regeneration Action Group.

Soldiers from 107 Field Squadron were joined by Wirral south MP Alison McGovern and Major Eddie Pickering MBE, representing the Mercian regiment, as the tree was planted with a silver spade.

Among those being remembered were Mercians Pte Douglas Halliday, 20, from Rock Ferry and Pte Alex Isaac, 20, from Eastham who drowned when the vehicle they were travelling in crashed into a canal in Afghanistan in 2010.

The new oak tree was chosen to be planted as it traditionally has symbolised strength and courage. In previous times, the oak has also symbolised other meanings:

  • The ancient Romans thought oak trees attracted lightening and thereby connected the oak tree to the sky god, Jupiter and his wife, Juno, the goddess of marriage, making the oak a symbol of conjugal fidelity and fulfillment.

  • The oak tree was regarded by Socrates as an oracle tree.

  • The Druids likewise ate acorns in preparation for prophesying. Druids also believed the leaves of the oak tree had the power to heal and renew strength. At mid-winter the Druids cut mistletoe from the oak tree for a good harvest for the year ahead and this is where we get our Xmas tradition with mistletoe.

  • The oak has also been a centre piece for tribal meetings and ceremonies, and would often be used by Vikings as a special meeting place for the Viking Thing, or Governing Assembly, something Wirral is known for with its well documented Viking ancestry.

The new tree in New Ferry Park will not only be a location for remembrance and thanks to our past and present service personnel, it will also become a new place of meeting – and if it grows – and if the vandals leave it alone – will hopefully become a part of New Ferry’s heritage for future generations to enjoy.

Also, additional new benches have been installed in the park with plaques dedicating them to the memory of former New Ferry residents and friends including Mel Roberts (aka "The Butterfly Man") who helped to found the Butterfly Park and NFRAG, Dave Gregory - a former councillor who also worked very hard for the New Ferry Community; and Amy Brady, who founded the phenomenally successfully Wirral Farmers Market.

The benches were kindly donated by the Wirral Old People's Parliament, whilst Wirral Council Parks department provided the new oak tree.