The All-Ireland President of Mothers’ Union, June Butler, joined Diocesan President, Jacqui Armstrong, and members of the Derry and Raphoe Mothers’ Union at a tree-planting ceremony on the outskirts of Londonderry on Thursday, to mark the Queen’s forthcoming platinum jubilee.

The women were greeted by blue skies and glorious sunshine as they gathered at Brackfield Wood, which skirts the River Faughan, just off the main Derry to Belfast Road near Killaloo. The area has been earmarked by the Woodland Trust for the cultivation of a centenary wood, and will eventually include 40,000 native trees commemorating soldiers who lost their lives during the First World War.

The MU members were met by staff from the Woodland Trust who provided them with spades which the women used to plant 70 trees – a mixture of native oak and cherry trees. They were also addressed by one of the Trust’s ambassadors, Peter Cregg MBE, who outlined the organisation’s plans for the wood.

The Diocesan President led the women in a prayer of thanksgiving for Her Majesty’s 70 years of faithful service. Mrs Armstrong said the Queen had shown kindness and compassion, great integrity and wisdom. She had never been afraid to stand up and say, “I believe in God; I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. He is my rock and my salvation. She has had her roots firmly planted in the ground.”

The tree-planting ceremony was the idea of Mrs Kathleen Finlay, who had written to the Queen to explain what the diocesan MU would be doing to mark the platinum jubilee. In her letter, Mrs Finlay said they hoped for only one thing for today’s event – a sunny day – and the ladies certainly got their wish.Ms Armstrong thanked the All-Ireland president and Mr Cregg for coming to the ceremony; the women (and Rev Canon Robert Clarke) for planting trees on behalf of MU; and two of the Woodland Trust’s staff – Dave Scott and Tommy Pringle – for advising on and assisting with the tree-planting, and for providing the tools.