The first of a series of living tributes to Her Majesty, the late Queen Elizabeth the Second took root today, with Sutherland Shire Council working with staff and students at Cronulla South Public School to begin a major tree planting project in honour of the Queen and her remarkable seventy-year reign.

As the first step in a tree planting project initially launched to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, Sutherland Shire Councillors and the Federal Member for Cook Scott Morrison joined senior staff and student leaders from the school to plant an advanced Grey Gum sapling which will serve as a prominent and lasting reminder of the Queen’s incredible tenure as Australia’s Head of State.

In addition to the tree planting conducted on site at the school, every student and staff member was presented with a commemorative seedling of their own to enable them to plant their own personal tribute to the Queen at home, an initiative which is hoped will see 300 leafy reminders dotting the local landscape in honour of the Queen’s legacy in years to come.

Sutherland Shire Mayor, Carmelo Pesce said while the passing of the Queen was a sombre moment for the nation, he was delighted to see the students at Cronulla South Public School taking part in such a thoughtful gesture to reflect on the Queen’s life of service and address one of the causes closest to her heart.

“Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second was passionate about protecting the environment to ensure that future generations can continue to enjoy our beautiful surrounds, and it is a legacy she lived out wherever she travelled,” Mayor Pesce said.

“During the sixteen tours that the Queen conducted to Australia throughout her lengthy reign, she took part in planting 15,000 trees, with plenty of these trees continuing to stand tall as treasured reminders of official visits to communities across the country.

“I can think of few more fitting ways to pay tribute than by honouring this incredible legacy and passion for our environment than by involving some of our youngest Sutherland Shire residents in planting a diverse range of native local species throughout our community.

“As the nation is set to pause for a National Day of Mourning tomorrow to mark the passing of Her Majesty and to reflect on her tremendous contribution to civic life in communities right across the Commonwealth, it is inspiring to see young people so engaged in celebrating her life and legacy.

“I would also like to offer thanks to the Member for Cook, Scott Morrison, for assisting Council to take part in the nationwide ‘Plant a Tree for the Jubilee’ program, with funding provided through the program allowing Council to deliver what we hope will be a lasting reminder of her incredible reign.

“I would like to thank Cronulla South Principal Dr Neil Lavitt and the amazing student leadership team for inviting us to conduct this commemorative planting in their playground, providing a prominent site for this marvellous living tribute.

Council’s contribution to the ‘Plant a Tree for the Jubilee’ program will see similar planting activities carried out at other schools throughout Cronulla, with three further schools confirmed to take part.

The program will culminate in a tree planting event to be staged adjacent to Cronulla Station early next year, with a mature native tree to be planted onsite to serve as focal point for community reflection on the Queen’s life of service throughout seven-decades on the throne.

Image: Sutherland Shire Mayor, Councillor Carmelo Pesce, Federal Member for Cook Scott Morrison, Councillors Laura Cowell and Leanne Farmer, South Cronulla Public School Principal Dr Neil Lavitt and student leaders plant an advanced Grey Gum sapling