Some 50 cherry blossom trees have been planted at Elm Grove Field, Hampden Park, in a special ceremony to celebrate the enduring friendship between Japan and the UK.
They were donated by Japanese businesses through the Sakura Cherry Tree Project which has seen more than 6,000 cherry trees – or Sakura in Japanese – planted across the UK.
Eastbourne resident Lady Antonia Lucas approached the Sakura Cherry Tree Project and proposed to the management committee that Eastbourne would be a suitable location for a grove of Sakura.
In 1995, Eastbourne hosted Leave It to Us, the first United Nations International Children’s Conference for the Environment, which was held at the Congress Theatre and attended by 850 children from 92 countries including young people from Hiroshima.
Dignitaries who attended the ceremony on Saturday (November 27) included Takeshi Ito, Minister for Public Diplomacy and Media at the Japanese Embassy; Hanako Kurosawa, also from the Japanese Embassy; Keisaku Sandy Sano, Chairman of the Japan Association in the UK and Lady Victoria Borwick, Deputy Chair of the association; Sara Stonor, Vice Lord Lieutenant for East Sussex; Lord Lucas representing the Queen’s Green Canopy Project, Eastbourne; Councillor Pat Rodohan, the Mayor of Eastbourne; and Councillors Jonathan Dow and Jim Murray.
Councillor Dow, Cabinet member for Climate Change, said: “Our thanks to the Japanese people for this generous gift that will provide much pleasure to Eastbourne residents and visitors for many years to come, especially in the springtime when we will enjoy their beautiful blossom.
“This is a great addition and continues to build on the success of Treebourne. Some 14,000 trees were planted in 2021 and funding is secured for 1,000 street trees to be planted during 2022. These Sakura trees not only enhance the environment in which we live but also play an invaluable role in contributing to our target of delivering a carbon neutral town by 2030.”
Antonia, who has been working on the Sakura Cherry Tree Project in liaison with Councillor Murray for the past year, said her love of Sakura was passed on from her mother, a professional artist and member of the Japan Association, who travelled to Japan twice to paint the trees.
She added: “I grew up immersed in Japanese culture and visited Japan in the 1990s so also have a deep love of the country, the people and of course, Sakura. Lady Borwick drew my attention to the Sakura Cherry Tree Project and I suggested that Eastbourne would be a perfect location for Tai Haku (the Great White Cherry) and this is how Eastbourne came to be gifted the trees.
“The planting location of Elms Grove Field is perfect as the Bourne runs alongside it – and the avenue of trees will face east. The dawn of a new day!”
For more information about the Sakura Cherry Tree Project visit japanuksakura.org