Leica Biosystems is a cancer diagnostics company and a global leader in workflow solutions, offering the most comprehensive portfolio from biopsy to diagnosis. Our mission of “Advancing Cancer Diagnostics, Improving Lives” is at the heart of our corporate culture. Our site at Balliol Business Park, Benton is home to our UK Advanced Staining and Imaging business unit and employs over 260 people.
Early in 2020, just before COVID-19 impacted our lives, the Leica Biosystems (LBS) Newcastle team were given the opportunity to take part in an event to plant 2500 trees at Plessey Woods Country Park, Bedlington. This was an historic event for our associates that took part in the tree planting as nothing like this has ever been done before, benefitting their physical and mental wellbeing while also supporting our local environment.
The idea first came about back in 2019 when the expansion of the site car park meant we removed about 20 trees from the Benton site. It was decided that we needed to find a way to replace the trees. So, we reached out to several local authorities in the region and Northumberland County Council got back in touch. They had a 1-hectare piece of land at Plessey Woods that they agreed we could use to plant 2500 native species of tree. This was the first steps to LBS establishing a partnership with Northumberland Council and becoming custodians of the land, which we called Leica Grove.
Planting 2500 trees posed a significant challenge, especially as they had to be planted by end of March to give them the best chance of survival. We reached out to our associates and we had over 200 volunteers, which from a site of 260 people was just amazing.
It was decided that we would make the tree planting team building events, so departments partnered up with other departments and attended in groups ranging from 35 to 60. We had 4 team building events in total starting in February and finishing in early March. The teams were brilliant, having to cope with cold, wet, windy weather and very muddy conditions. But despite the conditions every one that took part put in a great effort had a great time, even if they were super muddy and tired by the end.
Leica Grove will be a lasting legacy for our associates, which helps us to build a strong connection to our local community and continue our partnership with Northumberland Council. As the trees grow and mature, they will form a natural corridor for wildlife. Woodland Birds such as jays, greater spotted woodpecker, nuthatch, tree creeper and many others will use it as nesting locations and as a food source. The area will also help endangered red squirrels by creating more habitat for them to live. Badgers, deer, foxes and small mammals such as bank vole, wood mice and shrews will also benefit. This will be a beautiful and peaceful place for us all to visit and to be proud of for many years to come.
“The tree planting event at Plessey Woods was a great activity to be involved in. It was great to work as part of a team, and to be part of generating something sustainable in our local area. Doing something good, does you good, and I’m proud of what we have achieved”.
We continue to be supported through the different levels of the Better Health at Work programme by Maureen Turner from Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. For information on joining the programme, contact Maureen Turner, Health Improvement Practitioner Specialist, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust on 0191 270 4514 or visit www.betterhealthatworkne.org