The Surrey Tree of Life

Lord Lieutenant, Bishop Jo Wells, distinguished guests, University staff and students:

We gather here today to share a special occasion.

In a few minutes, the Lord Lieutenant will unveil The Surrey Tree of Life Memorial.

It is both a poignant and a celebratory moment in the University’s history, as we commemorate those who have departed and remember those we knew with fondness and love.

Time waits for no-one – a saying that can be traced back to the early 13th century.

By then Stag Hill had already been part of the Royal Deer Park created by Henry II for around 75 years.

Today, an arboretum containing a collection of around 1,500 trees sits on that former hunting reserve.

Many of them are memorials remembering students, staff and extended members of our campus community.

Maria Pereda. Bill Christmas. Tim Hughes.

They are but three of the names you will come across if, like me, you often walk around our glorious campus.

The concept of a tree of life exists in many cultures and belief systems across the world, signifying immortality.

This sculpture will become a fitting tribute to those who have gone before.

It will become a focal point for remembering the lives of those we have lost within our campus community: friends, colleagues and loved ones.

The simple act of placing a memorial leaf on this tree will resonate with love for those we have lost.

I would like to extend special thanks to Simon Smith, Laura Smythson, Rabbi Goldberg and the Religious Life and Belief team on their work in creating this scheme.

Now I’d like to invite Bishop Wells to deliver our opening prayer.