NERCWYS Forest may be a long way from Western Australia but thanks to the efforts of one local woodsman, a little corner of Flintshire will always remember the life of Jayden White - a young man from the small town of Mukinbudin who took his own life in November 2018.

As a youngster Jayden had once painted one of the trees on his parent’s farm blue as a surprise for his father Grant.

The story was retold at Jayden’s funeral and as a result his cousin, Jared and best mate, Simon, painted a giant tree blue in the middle of Simon’s father’s farm.

Video and images by Geoff Abbott

The idea began to catch on and soon the Blue Tree Project was born, with people across the country painting dead trees blue in order to raise awareness of suicide prevention and remember those who had taken their own lives.

“It all stemmed from Jayden’s story that I read through a friend who posted it on Facebook,” explains Jono Reid, 25. “I thought it was a fantastic thing to do and if they could do it over there, perhaps we could get it going over here.

“It’s all about raising awareness of suicide prevention and if it helps anyone, it’s a massive bonus.”

Jono, who lives locally and owns Mold-based tree surgery firm

J Reid Services, recently came into possession of about 30 acres of Nercwys Forest and felt he had an ideal space to stage a similar tribute to Jayden’s friends.

“I’ve been to few funerals of people who’ve committed suicide and it has brought it home for me what an issue it is,” he says. “I’ve had friends who’ve lost people too and after reading the story I thought we had the perfect opportunity to do something.

“I’m looking at managing this patch of the woods and creating our own space for the business.

“We noticed there were a few dead trees alongside the road and one beech tree in particular was overhanging, so we knew we had to do something with it. Once I had the idea I spoke to a couple of the lads and they agreed to get involved.

“We all jumped on it over the weekend and knocked the tree about a bit and painted it blue.

“There was seven us involved in total and we’ve also got Printcentre Wales in Mold to kindly donate a sign explaining what it’s about, which we’ve put up in front of the tree.

“It was a long day but we had help from Man Coed VM from Sandycroft who lent us a mobile elevating work platform, so we didn’t get too much paint over us and Reid & Roberts estate agents in Mold who donated the paint - it was a real group effort.”

The blue tree now stands next to the road where it has made a powerful statement and attracted a lot of attention from those driving through the woods, as well as walkers and horse riders.

“I’m more than happy with the result,” says Jono. “The amount of support we’ve had locally and the number of people stopping to take pictures has been been overwhelming and I didn’t expect it to be so popular.

“It’s going to stay there for as long as we can keep it there and in a few years we’ll repaint it.

“I’d love more people to get involved across the country and spread the word. I’d love the Forestry Commission to get involved too and maybe we could create a blue tree walk - whatever we can do to help raise awareness.”

Jono has had messages of support from those in Australia involved with the Blue Tree Project and Beyond Blue, an Australian charity, which supports those suffering from mental health.

“Since doing it I’ve found a lot more about the issue and it’s taught me a lot too,” he adds. “I think people don’t like talking about it - I suppose it’s that idea of ‘manning up’ when it comes to young blokes.

“All we want to do is raise a bit of awareness and if the tree can do that it will be fantastic.”