Page last updated at 12:31 GMT, Wednesday, 7 October 2009 13:31 UK

Ken Dodd starts NHS tree planting

Ken Dodd planting his tree
Ken Dodd said everyone should be planting more trees

Legendary Merseyside comedian Ken Dodd has helped school children begin planting a forest which will eventually be the size of 2,500 football pitches.

Children from Mount Primary School, in New Brighton, planted the first tree of the NHS Forest at the proposed £288m children's health park at Alder Hey.

The scheme will see 1.3 million trees planted across the UK, representing a sapling for every employee in the NHS.

Dodd said there was "no better place to start than Alder Hey in Knotty Ash".

He added: "We should all be planting trees everywhere to help the planet."

The aim is to plant trees in or around hospitals across the UK to help reduce the NHS's carbon footprint.

'Fantastic opportunity'

Those behind the scheme hope the forest, when it starts to reach maturity in 20 years, could reduce the carbon footprint by 10%.

Alder Hey NHS Foundation Trust is already working with the Forestry Commission to create its planned new hospital in Springfield Park, next to the current site.

Designs for new Alder Hey
The new hospital will be built in nearby Springfield Park

Liverpool City Council has granted planning permission for the hospital and plans have been submitted to the body which monitors NHS foundation trusts.

Louise Shepherd, chief executive of the trust, said: "We realised a long time ago at Alder Hey that green areas and a parkland environment are crucial as part of the recovery process for children.

"That is why our ambitious plan for a new Alder Hey will see the hospital in the middle of a public park where our young patients will be able to play and enjoy open space.

"The NHS Forest is a fantastic opportunity to create trees and natural environments around our hospitals. I am sure it will capture the imagination of the general public."

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