A MEMORIAL wood is being planted in honour of Somerset soldiers killed in the First World War.

The 23-acre Somerset Wood containing 14,000 broad leaf trees will be established in a planned country park between Monkton Heathfield and Nerrols Farm.

The project, a partnership of Taunton Deane Borough, Somerset County, Cheddon Fitzpaine Parish and West Monkton Parish Councils, will commemorate Somerset’s 11,281 fallen in the 1914-1918 conflict.

It will be a place for wildlife, people and peace, and locals, especially young people, will be involved in the planting.

TDBC’s project champion Cllr Norman Cavill, who represents West Monkton, said: “This is a wonderful example of partnership working to achieve something truly worthwhile.

“It will provide a peaceful recreational space for everyone to enjoy, protecting our green spaces for future generations while honouring those who gave their lives in the Great War.”

The ceremonial naming of the wood will be led by Somerset Lord Lieutenant Annie Maw, on Friday, November 9, followed by a service of dedication and blessing conducted by the Archdeacon of Taunton, the Ven Simon Hill.

Cllr Nigel Taylor, chairman Somerset County Council, said: “A permanent, living memorial like this is a truly fitting way to remember those who gave their lives in WWI.”

“To be able to see it dedicated and blessed just a couple of days before Remembrance Day in this the 100th anniversary year will make it even more special.”

Two fields that will make up part of the wood and country park were recently bought by TDBC from the Crown Estate as part of its policy of enabling community benefit where they have housing development.

West Monkton and Cheddon Fitzpaine Parish Councils have produced a joint neighbourhood plan including an aspiration to oversee the establishment and management of the park and are assisting in the planning of the wood.

Cheddon Fitzpaine chairman Cllr Denise Webber said: “The parish of Cheddon Fitzpaine is delighted to be working alongside the parish of West Monkton in honouring those people who came from Somerset and died in WWI. Dedicating this wood to their memory is a small token of our lasting respect for their ultimate sacrifice.”

Stuart Haskins, chair of West Monkton, said: “The parish is honoured to be part of this unique project to enable a wood and part of a larger park.

“This will be for the benefit of all present and future residents and to remember those who paid the ultimate price in service to their country.”

Trees come from The Woodland Trust, with as many as possible being planted between December and March.