THE first trees have been planted by families in memory of loved ones at St Peter's Orchard Meadow Memorial Garden in Cradley.

The memorial orchard has been years in the making and the first trees were planted and dedicated to a newborn baby who lived just six days.

Jade Hopkins, baby Stanley's mother, was joined by family members on Saturday to plant the tree.

She said: "This orchard project has brought our family together in Stanley’s memory.

"It will become a nice place to come and enjoy the peace and quiet and to remember and we’re thankful to the church for making this space.

She added: "“When we arrived it was a bit overwhelming, but, as the vicar said, ‘you eat an elephant one bite at a time.’ So one shovelful at a time we cleared enough space to plant six trees and it was very rewarding.

"I hope to come during the week before picking my other son up from school to keep clearing a little bit at a time, and eventually planting bulbs which will add some colour."

Vicar of St Peter's Church Rev’d Katryn Leclézio is delighted the first trees have been planted and hope the meadow will become a popular feature in the town.

She said: “It was pretty hard work digging out grass, bramble and plants to make space for the trees but we’ve made a start.

"It was lovely being out there with enthusiastic children who had a wonderful time pushing wheel barrows, fetching teas and coffees and asking if there were more jobs to do.”

She added: “If we can’t bury people there, the next best use is to plant trees in memory of loved ones who have died. “That way people have physical memorial to a special person, and, the community has a resource in fruit trees which the people of Cradley can use.”

"We hope to use traditional Staffordshire fruit stock, and so keeping alive our local heritage in this small way."

Last year volunteers helped clear the area being used for the garden of weeds and undergrowth and the church is now inviting the people of Cradley sponsor a tree in memory of a loved one or loved ones.

There is also an area where bulbs and shrubs can be planted in memory of unborn children who have been lost through miscarriage.

Anyone interested in planting a fruit tree in memory of a loved one can contact Rev’d Leclézio on 01384 411383, it will cost £162 for the tree, compost, and maintenance for three years.