Students plant 400 trees in memory of teacher who died suddenly

Chris Hunter, the former assistant principal at Lees Brook Academy, was just 35 years old when he died
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Lees Brook Academy students have planted 400 trees to create “Hunter’s Forest” in memory of a former assistant principal who died suddenly aged just 35.

The trees, donated by the Woodland Trust as part of its tree pack scheme to improve green spaces, were planted by 400 students – all of Years 7 and 8, on March 27.

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Principal Clare Watson, who planted a tree as part of the forest, explained the trees would create a quiet space which would be dedicated to Chris Hunter, who worked at the school until the start of this academic year.

Lees Brook Academy pupils have planted trees in memory of Chris HunterLees Brook Academy pupils have planted trees in memory of Chris Hunter
Lees Brook Academy pupils have planted trees in memory of Chris Hunter

“Chris was one of our Assistant Principals here at Lees Brook last year,” explained Mrs Watson. “Sadly, a few weeks ago, we learned he had died suddenly. He was just 35. The staff and students wanted these trees to be dedicated to him. He was a massive Nottingham Forest fan so we are calling this area ‘Hunter’s Forest’, in his memory.”

Groups of students were given a quick tutorial on how to plant the trees – a mixture of dog wood, hazel wood, silver birch – by the school’s Eco Council and other student volunteers.

Lochlan, 13, said: “I’ve been helping to show people how to plant the trees. I think it’s very good to have all these trees because when they grow we will have an area to relax in and be with the environment.”

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Teacher Mark Hadfield helped the students throughout the day as they braved the wind and rain to plant their trees.

He said: “They have been fantastic all day and we have made brilliant progress. Derbyshire Wildlife Trust did a survey of the site before we got the trees from the Woodlands Trust so we have been preparing for this day and are really pleased to see the trees in situ.”

Biodegradable protectors have been placed around each sapling while they establish in the ground, and students have been careful to cover the roots properly to protect them from any frost.

“We are really looking forward to watching the trees flourish and this becoming a peaceful and reflective area for students and staff,” said Mrs Watson.

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