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Heartbroken family unveil plaque remembering Gedling borough Covid victims and pay tribute to caring husband and father who passed away after contracting virus

A heartbroken family paid tribute to their much-missed husband and father at the opening of a new memorial woodland dedicated to those who lost their lives to Covid across Gedling borough.

The Gedling Borough Memorial Woodland at Carlton Hill Recreation Ground was officially opened yesterday (Friday, 9) and has been created to remember the 330 people across the borough who tragically died as a result of the virus.

The family of Andy Needham, who sadly passed away in January this year after contracting the virus, were invited to unveil a memorial plaque at the entrance to the new woodland.

Andy was well known and liked in the community and remembered by loyal customers who visited his Just Delicious bakery on Carlton Square.

The plaque unveiled by Andy’s wife Lorna and daughters Alix and Sophie remembers all those in the community who lost their lives during the pandemic.

Daughter Alix paid an emotional tribute to her father during the unveiling.

UNVEILING: l to r, Sophie and Lorna Needham with Alix Oram (PHOTO: Gedling Eye)
PICTURED: The memorial plaque unveiled yesterday (PHOTO: Gedling Eye)
PICTURED: Val Green from Carlton Hill Action Group talks to local councillors during the opening event (PICTURE: Gedling Eye)

“We hope this memorial will help to bring peace to people in the community.

“We hope it maybe takes on what people said about Andy, that he always had time to stop and talk to people no matter how busy he was and so many people have said that about him. I think we can all take something from that and use this woodland as a place to connect to each other and talk to each other.”

The memorial woodland is the brainchild of Val Green, who is a member of the Carlton Hill Action Group who work tirelessly to improve the local area.

She explained the initial thought was to use the land to create a community woodland but its purpose changed when the pandemic hit.

Val told Gedling Eye: “I moved here about four years ago and spotted this strip of land at the Recreational Ground was a bit wild and had potential to be even more back to nature. The initial thought was to just put some trees in – and then Covid hit.

“Because of Covid, I thought we could really make something really special here to remember people in the Carlton community. It was when I was talking to Carlton Hill councillor Alex Scroggie about getting Gedling Borough Council involved that he suggested it should actually become a memorial wood for the whole of the borough and I thought that was a lovely idea.

“We now plan to add to the woodland each year and make it somewhere really special.”

Next steps include to plant more native trees, install CCTV to keep the woodland protected and also add new signage.

Val added: “We are having some conversations with Balfour Beatty about how they can help. They are looking at designs for interpretation panels that will show all the native tress that are planted here.”

“We still need fencing and wooden sculptures would be nice so if any other companies want to donate these to us, that would be wonderful.”

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