A councillor’s tribute to the heroes of the Covid pandemic has been completed with help from a historic Middlesbrough foundry.
Cllr Joan McTigue planted the oak tree in her Longlands and Beechwood ward in December, 2020 in recognition of the tireless work and sacrifices of those in the NHS.
Cllr McTigue paid for the oak out of her allowance, and has dedicated it to those who have put their own lives on the line during the coronavirus pandemic.
The inscription reads:
This oak tree is dedicated to the men and women of the NHS whose courage, determination and compassion saved so many lives during the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Cllr McTigue said: “The oak tree is celebration of and tribute to the tireless work and sometimes terrible sacrifices made by NHS staff who cared for those afflicted by this dreadful disease.
“They put their lives on the line to care for and protect us, and as a town and as a country we owe them an enormous debt of gratitude.
“I hope we never have to live through something like this again – and I also hope the tree and plaque will be here for generations to come as a reminder of why our NHS is so important to each and every one of us.”
Dr Richard Cree, an intensive care consultant from James Cook Hospital, said: “When this oak was planted we were all gearing up for our second wave of Covid patients.
The survival rate for our patients during the first Covid wave was one of the best in the country and we are all proud of what we achieved.
“When the pandemic started, our staff were all worried about becoming ill themselves.
“Our first ventilated Covid patient was a member of nursing staff from a nearby hospital, which only served to worry us more. Fortunately, they survived and made a good recovery.
“It was a very hectic, stressful time for all of us, but everyone worked incredibly hard, and did everything they could to help. As a result, we were able to save many lives.”
The commemorative plaque was made in cast aluminium at Middlesbrough’s historic William Lane Foundry.
Foundry Director Stuart Duffy said: “I think having the oak tree symbolises the National Health Service – its strength, stability and endurance, and what those who work in it go through to protect us all.
“For me the world stopped, but they didn’t.
“An oak tree is a small but fitting symbol of our thanks, and we were delighted to be able to create the plaque to go with it.”