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Orléans Ward
Bob Monette

Beacon Hill,
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Tim Tierney






(Posted 7:30 a.m., Oct. 2)
Lions Remembrance Forest a sea of tranquility
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

On Russell Road, just east of Bearbrook, there is a farm that caters to mentally and physically challenged adults in a rural agrarian setting.

Located next to the farm is the Lions Memorial Forest. Dedicated just last year, the forest contains trees planted in memory of deceased Lions Club members, members and friends of ICSS which provided the land for the forest, or persons sponsored by local Lions Clubs like Hannah Billings from Navan, who passed away from cancer in 2007 at the age of 10.

(From left to right) Olivia Billings, Ali Billings, Meghen Billings and Brian Billings sit on a bench dedicated to Hannah Billings who passed away in 2009 after a lengthy battle with cancer. Fred Sherwin/Photo

The Hannah Billings Fund was created by the Navan Lions Club shortly after her passing in partnership with her parents Ali and Brian. The Fund is used to help sick children and their families deal with the consequences of serious childhood illness or disability.

The Billings were in attendance for this year’s Lions Memorial Forest dedication ceremony in honour of the 12 additional trees that have been planted this year.

Hannah’s tree is a Boomerang Lilac and it is located next to the gazebo in the centre of the forest. (The forest is only a forest in the purest definition of the word. All of the trees are mere saplings at this point.)

Located next to the tree is a bench donated by members of Brian’s men’s hockey team, the Canterbury Rusty Blades, and the Navan Lions Club.

When the Billings first saw the tree and the bright blue bench, Ali was overwhelmed.

“It”s so beautiful, and the bench is blue, Hannah would have loved it,” Ali said as she tried to describe her emotions. “I’m lost for words because literally it is beautiful. It’s a beautiful space for us to come. It’s so peaceful. I’m overwhelmed. I really am overwhelmed. And I know we will come here often and sit on a bench with Hannah’s name on it. She would have absolutely loved it.”

The Memorial Forest is located on land owned by Innovative Community Support Services (ICSS) which has been operating a group home in Cumberland since 2001 and currently has residential homes in Navan and Orléans that house more than 140 adults aged 18 to 70.

They bought the hobby farm on Russell Road in 2009 to act as a base for their Alternative Support Service Program.

In 2015, they were approached by District 4 of the International Lions Club about providing space for a memorial forest. It turned out to be a match made in Heaven.

Home Depot has become involved more recently, donating materials for a small bridge and gateway into the forest as well as marker posts for the individual name plates that accompany each tree.

Members of the public can drop by to walk though the forest anytime. Families are also welcome to visit with their many animals, but they should e-mail ahead of time to rebecca@icss.ca.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

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