More details have been announced of the Trees of Hope trail, an important part of the programme to mark the first anniversary of last year’s 22 May Manchester Arena attack.
The trail, which runs from Saturday 19 May to Sunday 27 May inclusive, is intended as the focus for people who want to share messages of tribute, solidarity and love.
It will feature 28 beautiful Japanese maple trees, along a route from Victoria Station to St Ann’s Square, to which messages can be attached using specially-designed cardboard tags. These can be obtained from volunteers who will be overseeing the trees every day from 8am to 8pm - 8am to 11pm on Tuesday 22 May itself.
At the end of the Trees of Hope event, every single message will be preserved and kept – alongside tributes left last year – in an archive of the city’s response to the attack. The trees themselves will remain in the city centre.
Any other tributes which are left in public spaces will be sensitively removed at the end of each day and taken to Wythenshawe Park, where they will remain on display. Any floral and plant tributes will be recycled once they have reached the end of their lifespans, or replanted elsewhere as appropriate. In fact, compost made from some of the floral tributes left last year will be used to help nurture the Trees of Hope.
Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Last year the immediate aftermath of the Arena attack saw a spontaneous outpouring of grief, love and solidarity through the sea of tributes left in St Ann's Square. It was an incredibly moving sight which will never be forgotten by anyone who witnessed it. But it would be impossible to recreate that unique scene.
“While we recognise and respect that the anniversary is a very personal thing which people will want to mark in their own ways, we would encourage anyone who wants to leave and share tributes to do so through the Trees of Hope trail.
“It promises to be a moving and memorable sight which will help people to reflect on last year’s events. We know that the anniversary will be an incredibly difficult time for many people, especially those who lost loved ones or were badly injured. Yet we saw last year in countless good deeds, instances of compassion and refusal to give in to hatred that the worst of times can bring out the best in people. That is the hope that the Trees of Hope trail will symbolise.”
A total of 22 lives were lost in the attack and many others changed forever.
Other elements of the commemorative programme for the anniversary include a civic cathedral service and national one-minute silence at 2.30pm on 22 May, the Manchester Together – With One Voice collective singing event in Albert Square on the evening of 22 May and There Is A Light (lyric and song projection in St Ann’s Square 22-26 May)