A CHERRY blossom tree has been planted in Hampden Park as a symbol of the friendship between Japan and the UK.   

It was donated by Japanese businesses through the Sakura Cherry Tree Planting project which aims to plant more than 1,000 trees across the UK, following a joint declaration of co-operation made by the Japanese and British Prime Ministers in 2017.  

The great white cherry tree (Prunus Tai-haku) was planted in the park’s arboretum near the café on Wednesday (November 4) at a ceremony attended by environmental supporters and councillors.  

Councillor Jonathan Dow, Cabinet member for Climate Change, said: “This is a very welcome gift from the Japanese people and I hope many Eastbourne residents and visitors will take pleasure in seeing it here, especially during the spring when its renowned blossom appears.  

“Another 30 of these cherry blossoms are to be planted soon near St Wilfrid’s Hospice leading a trail up to Butts Brow with the aim of encouraging people to use our beautiful downlands.”  

The date of the planting was chosen to mark the 25th anniversary of Leave It To Us, the first 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. 

Also commemorating 25 years since the conference is a 10-day virtual festival called Making Natural History, to showcase initiatives that enable people to engage with nature. It runs from today (November 9) to November 20. 

Lady Antonia Lucas, Making Natural History host and sponsor, said: “What a wonderful and generous gift we have received from Japan. Thank you.  

“The Great White Sakura is simply the most beautiful tree.  It is a tradition in Japan we hope will be enthusiastically adopted in Eastbourne – for people to picnic beneath the Sakura when it blossoms.

“It is a beautiful ancient custom – to enjoy the transient beauty of the flowers or ‘hana’.  This time next year in the autumn of 2021 children from the town will be involved in the planting of 30 more Great White Trees. 

“We are very much looking forward to developing our relationship with the children of Hiroshima to mark the truly extraordinary pioneering event that took place in 1995 in Eastbourne – the Leave ItToUs first event International Children’s Conference on the Environment.” 

To join the Making Natural History event visit makingnaturalhistory.co.uk and click on the ‘sign up for talks’ button. 

Photo from l to r: Lady Antonia Lucas, Councillor Jim Murray, Daniel Correia (a young member of EcoEd2030), Councillor Jonathan Dow, Councillor David Tutt and Viviane Oliveira (a member of EcoEd2030).