Tree sculpture in workers’ memory

Treemendous idea, pictured with the tree are, left to right, Jeff Hedley, Jackie Donley, Edwin Jefferies and Cliff Chapman.
Treemendous idea, pictured with the tree are, left to right, Jeff Hedley, Jackie Donley, Edwin Jefferies and Cliff Chapman.

A POIGNANT yet futuristic memorial has been incorporated into the new Hartlepool College of Further Education.

Last year, the Government officially recognised Workers’ Memorial Day which is honoured by trade unions across the world every April.

Staff and students at Hartlepool College of Further Education have been involved in services working alongside Edwin Jeffries, president of Hartlepool Trades Council.

Workers’ Memorial Day is now observed as an important event in the college “Respect” calendar, which promotes citizenship and safe working practices.

Last year, with a new college building taking shape, a particular focus was made on the construction industry and the staff at building firm Miller, working to build a college for the future.

Michael Bretherick, college principal and chief executive, said: “The theme of Workers’ Memorial Day chimes with every message we give students about safety.

“I wanted to do more than an annual event and used the opportunity to commission a piece of sculpture for the new college as a permanent memorial.”

The new stainless steel memorial tree will stand in the college atrium.

Jeff Hedley, senior project manager for Miller and in charge of the new college site, said: “I was honoured to be able to recommend Cliff Chapman Metalworks Ltd. Cliff’s work is known all over the world.”

Mr Chapman said: “I can think of no more fitting tribute than a lasting memorial at a college of further education. After all, college is where we all learn our trade.”

Mr Jeffries said: “It has been fantastic to work with the college to promote understanding of health and safety at work and remember people who, sadly, have lost their lives at work.

“This iconic sculpture will be promoted to trade unions in every country.”

Jackie Donley, a head of division at Hartlepool College of Further Education, said: “We hope our students will see the tree as a lasting memorial and reflect on the sadness and waste, particularly where an accident is avoidable through the use of personal protective equipment and safe working practices.

“This unusual sculpture is a memorial but is also about promoting a safe working culture.”

The tree will eventually have 300 leaves, inscribed with the names of those that have lost their lives at work or been injured.

The college would like to know from people in the local area of any person that should be remembered.

Mrs Donley added: “All the college needs is the name of the person and the date and place of the industrial accident.

“The person involved does not have to have attended the college or have a connection with the college but of course it would be even more poignant if they did.”

To request that the name of a loved one or a former colleague is included, people should contact Gary Kester on or on (01429) 295111.