Tree of Hope blooms

Colette and Steve Locke placed the first leaf to commemorate Zack's life. Pictures: LUCY WALDRON

By Lucy Waldron

On a warm autumn morning in Warwick, where trees were dropping leaves all over the town, one blue tree sitting in St Mark’s blue garden began to grow its leaves instead and these would not fall.

The Tree of Hope, an initiative spearheaded by Zack Lockes Flock, was officially opened on Saturday 13 April and the Leaves of Love found their place on the branches.

Community members were given the opportunity to engrave a leaf to remember a friend or family member who lost their life to suicide.

Currently bearing 25 names, the leaves represent mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, partners, and friends.

Several people gathered at St Mark’s Church on Saturday to watch the placing of the leaves and commemorate those who now have a resting place upon a blue branch.

Colette Locke, a member of Zack Lockes Flock and mother of Zack said the tree aimed to create a place of quiet reflection as opposed to the sadness and formality found in a graveyard.

“We hope it will continue to be utilised and if more people want a leaf they reach out to us,” Colette said.

Placed in the heart of Warwick, the Tree of Hope – a blue tree – remains a symbol of conversation about people’s mental health challenges and asking are you ok?

Reverend Lizzie Gaitskell St Mark’s parish priest said she was grateful that as a society, conversations around mental health and suicide were becoming more common.

“We are not hiding or obscuring those who have lost their struggle, but we are honouring them by marking places of love,” Rev’d Gaitskell said.

Attendees were encouraged to bring a plate of food to share and so they were given a moment of reflection, a conversation among people in similar situations and a place to gather over a bite to eat.