Thousands of young cadets will stand side by side among swathes of symbolic woodland poppy fields to salute the beginning of a £1 million First World War fundraising challenge.

The cadets will show their backing for a unique project by the Woodland Trust to honour those who fell in the First World War at Heartwood Forest, near Sandridge on Friday, June 27.

The aim of the charity’s "Centenary Woods First World War Project" is to create four centenary woods, one in each of the four home nations, where thousands of trees will be planted. Many of these will be dedicated by the public in honour of their ancestors who fought in the Great War and those who were affected.

The determined cadets are aiming to raise more than £1 million through fundraising for the project, which will span the four years of the war centenary.

Beccy Speight, Woodland Trust Chief Executive said: "This is going to be a wonderful event and we are delighted that more than 40 army and air cadets will gather and thousands more are backing us on this project with such a challenging fundraising goal.
"As we know families up and down the country were affected by the First World War and what better way is there to mark that than by planting a tree to give a lasting and growing legacy for those who lost their lives or were affected?

"It is fitting that the cadets, some of who will be a similar age to those who went to war, should be among the surroundings of Heartwood where there are lots of poppies - the symbol of war remembrance of course.

"Heartwood is also a young wood and will mature for years to come. With the young cadets, the event will celebrate the future as well as our thoughts being on the past too."

Heartwood is not a chosen site for the First World War Centenary Woods but has been chosen for the launch of the cadets’ funding challenge as it’s a good example of how the woods will develop in the first decade once the land is acquired and planted

Colonel Frank Hewitt, Cadet Forces-Woodland Trust Coordinator, said: "Having provided considerable support to the Woodland Trust over many years through the Cadet Forces-Woodland Trust Partnership, cadets are now embarking on the WW1 project with enthusiasm and determination, as part of their comprehensive WW1 commemorative activities.

"I have every confidences that the Cadet Forces, represented at Heartwood on Friday by the St Alban's School CCF Contingent, will again make a significant and valued contribution."

The trees will be planted at the following locations:
England: Langley Vale, near Epsom, Surrey.
Wales - Carway, Carmarthenshire.
Northern Ireland - Brackfield, County Londonderry.
Scotland - Pentland Hills, near Edinburgh.