Wexford's first tree of hope takes root
A symbol of hope for those affected by mental health problems and suicide took root at the weekend when Wexford's Tree of Hope was planted in Redmond Park.
Over 60 people gathered in the park for the ceremony, which coincided with World Suicide Prevention Day. Organised by Leonard Kelly, the event was part of a nationwide initiative..
'The Tree Of Hope is a symbol to all affected by a suicide or living with mental health issues to show we support you all,' said Leonard. 'Our Hope is as the tree grows in strength, so too will the people hurting and as the branches reach out, that people in a dark place will reach out and ask for help.'
Leonard said that the tree will serve as a physical, organic reminder of hope, and be a place of calm, respite and growth.
Emotions were high throughout the ceremony, particularly when local singer Rachel Grace sang for the crowd. Mayor Councillor Frank Staples and Fr Denis Doyle also spoke for the occasion.
In the coming months, a bench is due to be placed by the tree and it is hoped it will become a place of respite and reflection.
Following the outcome of this year's event, Leonard said that he hopes to organise an annual gathering at the tree to mark World Suicide Prevention Day.
The Tree of Hope initiative began as a way of remembering those lost to suicide and over 129 trees have been planted nationwide to date. It was established by Dublin native Noeleen Fulham in light of the growing issue of suicide and mental health problems in Ireland.