Pupils from East Wichel Primary School, and more than 30 employees from Nationwide Building Society’s Swindon head office, braved biting winds to plant trees at Wiltshire Wildlife Trust’s Ravensroost Wood nature reserve, near Malmesbury, on Monday 2 March.
This was the first of three tree-planting days on the site, where Nationwide staff, steered by Wiltshire Wildlife Trust (WWT), will plant 3,000 trees as the start of their countrywide initiative to plant a tree for each of their employees.
Gary Mantle, chief executive officer of Wiltshire Wildlife Trust – who planted a field maple – said: “It was great to see the energy and enthusiasm of everyone taking part, despite the wet, boggy clay, hail and high winds. The children were absolutely enthralled.
“It reinforces everything we say about the positive impact of the natural environment on our health and well-being.”
Nationwide CEO Graham Beale planted an oak tree on the site. He said: “We’re doing this because of a desire to do something for the environment to offset our carbon emissions. Over time it will start to compensate for the input we have had on our environment.
“This is an initiative by our employees. The benefits are a rich source of biodiversity which, in turn, provides a habitat for the local wildlife. It will be a great place for people to relax as well as being great for the environment. “
“We wanted to do something local for the future – what better way to do that than planting a woodland?”
Ellie Jones, Braydon Forest Project Field Officer for WWT, said: “Today went really well. Everybody got stuck in and picked up the technique easily. They made good progress and they seemed to be enjoying themselves too. They loved being outside instead of sitting at a desk all day.”
Adam Afouneh, who works at Nationwide’s head office in Swindon, said: “As soon as I got the email about this, I thought, ‘That would be great – to do something for the environment.’
“It’s been really good – a bit different. It was great doing something challenging and being out in the fresh air.”
Last year, Mr Beale pledged to plant a tree for every current Nationwide employee and every future employee. That’s 17,000 trees with up to an additional 3,000 per year.
Pictured above: Graham Beale CEO of Nationwide ( left) & Gary Mantle of WWT and the children of East Wichel Primary School