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Helmsley Sweetshop launches fundraising challenge to plant 200 ‘twin’ trees in Yorkshire and Uganda

A Helmsley businesswoman is asking locals and visitors to ‘dig deep’ and help her plant 200 twinned trees in Yorkshire and Uganda.

Inspired by Captain Sir Tom Moore’s family, which is looking to plant a ‘Trees for Tom’ Yorkshire woodland in his memory, Lynn Hempsall of Helmsley Traditional Sweet Shop decided to start a fundraising campaign to plant trees in two locations almost 6,500 miles apart.

The shop is asking for individual donations of £2 to pay for two trees – one for Yorkshire and one for Uganda. Lynn has previously taken three trips to the African country to volunteer as part of environmental work, including planting trees and educating locals and schoolchildren in Kisoro on how to protect the vulnerable mountain gorillas. Because the country relies heavily on tourists and volunteers it has been particularly impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic and the ban on travel. A message from a charity worker in the country saying they had been unable to secure any trees in the last year for the school children in Kisoro to plant cemented the fundraising idea in her mind.

Lynn has also been studying for an Open University course, with her most recent module looking at trees and the ways they support life. She explains: “Studying for my OU course, one area that has really caught my attention is how walking in woodlands and forests has helped so many people here in the UK during the Covid lockdowns, myself included – I think we’ve never appreciated trees as much as we do now! In Uganda the trees are vital to offer shade, for the fruit they bear and for medicines – and numbers being planted have decreased dramatically from over 4000 in 2012 to less than 500 in 2019. Beyond that we all know the important role trees play in helping with climate change over time, so planting more leaves a legacy for all our families.”

It has also just been announced that the Queen’s Green Canopy (QGC) scheme is launching, encouraging people across the UK to plant trees in an initiative to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022.

Lynn continued: “The fact the Queen has just announced her ‘tree-bilee’ shows how important trees are in so many ways. I think we also all fell in love with Sir Tom and what he stood for, and this also feels like something we can do as part of his 100 Challenge legacy. Hopefully we can raise enough for 100 trees for each location – but of course if we can get more than that would be even better!”

Denis Aqaba works for the Wildlife Clubs of Uganda covering the Kisoro area, which includes two forests where mountain gorillas live. He said: “We are so grateful to Lynn for the fundraising she is doing and would like to thank everyone who is able to donate. The trees are so important in Uganda for so many reasons – for gorilla food, human food, medicine and for wood burning. The trees which bear fruit for eating are fantastic because within a couple of years we can start using the fruits seeds for re-planting. Indigenous trees are grown mainly to increase the habitat for the gorillas as they provide food for them. However, when planted in schools they provide shade and oxygen and in addition, as branches grow, they are used as stakes. They also act as resources for teaching about the gorillas and what they eat and where they live, which is so important in our quest to protect these precious animals.”

To donate visit Helmsley Traditional Sweet Shop in Barkers Yard, Helmsley, or donate via the website at www.helmsleysweets.co.uk