The 5th November marked the 34th anniversary of the city of Manchester, England, becoming the world’s first nuclear free city. The city was declared to be a “nuclear free zone” on 5th November 1980.
To mark the occasion the Mayors for Peace organization awarded the city some seedlings taken from ginko trees that survived the bombing of Hiroshima. Mayors for Peace is a global programme founded by the mayor of Hiroshima, Takeshi Araki, in 1982. Manchester is a vice presidential city in the Mayors for Peace programme.
The ginkgo trees were growing less than two kilometres from Hiroshima city centre and survived the atomic bombing, despite suffering severe damage. The following spring, new buds appeared on the charred trunks of the trees, giving hope to the survivors of the bombing as they began to rebuild their city.
Manchester is the first city in the United Kingdom to receive peace seeds from Hiroshima.
The ginko-tree seedlings were officially presented to the Lord Mayor of Manchester, Councillor Sue Cooley.
Accepting the seedlings, the Lord Mayor said:
To receive these seedlings from trees that survived the atomic bomb is truly breathtaking, they serve as both a pertinent symbol of hope and a reminder that we stand proud, with our fellow Mayors for Peace cities, in the call for nuclear disarmament.
“I hope that local children are inspired by these symbolic ginkgos and look forward to seeing their art work next year. Involving young people with the Mayors for Peace programme is vital in making sure the next generation do not forget the immense destruction nuclear weapons can cause and do not repeat the mistakes of the past.
The seedlings will be nurtured and cared for by the Hulme Garden Centre in Manchester and they will be used in a school project , Project Gingko, in 2015.
The project will invite children from Manchester to create artwork reflecting upon the destruction of Hiroshima in 1945 and how nature can help regenerate destroyed cities.
The artwork will be entered into a competition and an exhibition of the completed artwork will be held. The winners of the competition will be invited to attend a special event with representatives from Hiroshima.
The story was picked up by the BBC News: Hiroshima ginkgo tree seeds take root in Manchester