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Chris planted one of the first of more than 200,000 trees to be planted in Langley Vale to mark 100 years since the start of World War One.

Four centenary woods are planned – one each in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

A spokesman for the trust said £8m has been raised of the £20m needed to pay for the project so it still needs people to donate.

“It’s fantastic to see the new forest begin to take shape, and to do so with dozens of local schoolchildren planting the first trees. This is a really exciting project, and one that will safeguard this beautiful area of the Downs for future generations. ” Chris

Beccy Speight, Woodland Trust chief executive, said: “We still need the funds to pay for all the sites but we are well on our way to creating four beautiful, growing focal points by 2018, as well as having planted millions more trees and helped to create hundreds of woods, to give thanks to all those who sacrificed so much.

“All those who made sacrifices in the First World War did so in the hope of securing a brighter future for the next generation.

“In this centenary year, we can’t think of a better way to give thanks for this than creating thousands of acres of life-giving native woodland, as a legacy for the whole country.”

“A wood is the polar opposite of war – a beautiful, peaceful oasis of calm and life which throws into sharp contrast all that war brings.”

The English centenary wood is next to Epsom Downs Racecourse, where Lord Kitchener inspected thousands of British troops waiting to be deployed on 22 January 1915.

More than 200,000 trees, fields of poppies and other wildflowers will be planted at Langley Vale over the next four years.

The site will be bigger than the Olympic Park and link up pockets of existing woodland when it is completed.

Planting is set to start in March next year.