Set in sixteen acres of beautiful mature woodland, GreenAcres Colney, on the Western fringe of Norwich, was the first of the parks to be opened towards the end of 1999 and now serves as a model for the other parks in the GreenAcres Group.
In the early days the ‘office’ was a caravan for the few members of staff to operate from. The canopy of the woodland was so thick that barely any light was able to shine through, resulting in very limited growth on the woodland floor and few species of birdlife and wildlife being supported. Therefore, much of the initial work needed to be careful management and tree thinning to ensure that Colney became the active woodland that we know today.
There used to be specific open days for people to visit and take a walk around the woodland. Today, we are open throughout the year and we encourage people to visit us all year round both to visit their loved ones and for peaceful reflection.
The first plot purchased was for an Ash Interment on 1st August 1999, and was soon followed with the first Full Burial plot on 7th September 1999. The Bluebell Wood escarpment was designated as the perfect area for Ash Scatterings and a large wooden memorial was erected at the top for families to lay floral tributes in memory of their loved ones.
In 2002, the office building and the woodland shelter were added, providing a proper base for the expanding staff team to operate from, and a relaxing and peaceful retreat for families in the middle of the woodland, to survey the landscape that had already changed so much in just a couple of years. Flora and fauna were beginning to thrive but the woodland still needed to be carefully managed to ensure this continued.
Simon Weston OBE officially unveiled the stunning ceremonial buildings during a ceremony on 13th May 2003. Built using natural materials from sustainable sources, the Woodland and Gathering Halls provided a stunning venue for services for those of all faiths and those of none. The huge glass panels of the Woodland Hall look out into the woodland, and glass doors open onto a wooden decked pathway to lead families’ forwards on their journey into the wood.
A later addition was the pond in the area known as The Dell. Man-made by the Colney Woodland team, this area not only provides a peaceful haven with benches overlooking the ripples on the water, but a pontoon offers a platform for children’s community events, such as pond dipping.
Today, Colney’s meticulous woodland management over the last fifteen years has ensured thriving, mature, native woodland, which supports hundreds of species. It is a bird-spotters dream, with well over 50 species regularly seen, including Greater Spotted Woodpeckers, Tree Creepers and Jays. Gentle paths snake their way through native species of trees, including Silver Birch, Ash, Oak and Beech, and every year, Colney plays host to a stunning burst of Bluebells and Foxgloves.
We have a full programme of events running throughout the year, to ensure we support both our families and the local community. Events such as thanksgiving services, both religious and non-religious, maintain our ethos that Colney is a park for all. The staff are passionate; passionate about what we do and the service we provide.
To date, over 5000 people have been laid to rest with us, with a further 1,150 choosing to make their arrangements in advance as ‘pre-need’ purchases. When you sit amongst the trees and wildflowers and feel the gentle breeze on your face, it’s not hard to see and feel what makes Colney such a special place.