REPRESENTATIVES from Mid and East Antrim Borough Council and members of the local community were honoured to attend the launch of the Sakura Cherry Tree Project in London.
Representing the Council was Alderman Stewart McDonald who was accompanied by Wallace Elder and Rodney Stewart from Ahoghill Traders’ Association.
Behind the branches and the blossom of the cherry trees in The Regent’s Park is a story of mutual respect and friendship between Japan and the UK that first took root over 150 years ago. The new cherry trees are a symbol of this special relationship.
The trees are a gift from Japan as part of the Japan-UK Season of Culture 2019-20, which will see 6,500 planted in parks and schools around the UK. To mark the start of the project 36 cherry trees were planted in the park on Wednesday – the first of 125 in The Royal Parks.
The official ceremony saw two Taihaku cherry trees planted by HRH The Duke of Gloucester, Ambassador Nagamine, Loyd Grossman and Sandy Sano, the Chairman of the Sakura Cherry Tree Project.
Ahoghill will be taking delivery of 100 cherry trees which will have pride of place in a new woodland park planned at Cardonaghy Road, next to the local community centre and other community assets.
The trees will be part of a growing cross-cultural legacy between the two countries that spans from business and industry to horticulture. They are a fitting gift, as this isn’t the first time that a cherry tree has been given by one country and gratefully received by the other.
Ahoghill, and the wider Council area, has a long-standing connection to Japan due to the employment provided by Japan Tobacco Industries (JTI) for many years and the investment the company has made in the surrounding area to enable the local Traders’ Association to compete, and win, at the highest level in Best Kept, Ulster in Bloom and Britain in Bloom competitions.
For more information on the project visit https://www.facebook.com/japanuksakura