Olive trees are being planted in the United Kingdom “for peace and reunification” in Cyprus to mark the 50th anniversary of Turkey’s invasion of the island.

The tree planting scheme has been organised by the National Federation of Cypriots in the UK, with the first three trees having been planted on Wednesday at war memorials in the east coast towns of Great Yarmouth and Caister-on-Sea, as well as in Cromer, which is located further north.

The plantings were coordinated by the Eptakomi Association, a Cypriot diaspora association named after the Karpasia village, which has a large number of members living in Norfolk, the county in which all three towns are located.

All three tree plantings were attended by Great Yarmouth mayor Penny Carpenter as well as other local civic leaders, Eptakomi association chairman Nick Yiannoullou and executive committee member Michael Yiacoumi.

Speaking at the tree planting ceremony, Carpenter said the invasion “stands as a sombre reminder of the conflict that engulfed Cyprus.”

She added that on such an occasion, “it is fitting that we plant an olive tree sapling – a living testament to our commitment to peace, as its deep routes and outstretched branches embody the enduring resilience of human spirit and the promise of a brighter future.”

Melivia Demetriou, political counsellor of the Cypriot High Commission in London, also attended the meeting on behalf of High Commissioner Kyriacos Kouros.

She said, “more than 200,000 people were forced from their homes, becoming refugees in their own country”, and also made reference to “those who are still looking for their loved ones” and “those who have lost their homes and livelihoods”.

“We plant today an olive tree to pay tribute to human resistance and resilience, for freedom and for peace,” she said.

Yiannoullou also spoke at the ceremony saying, “we plan to plant olive trees across the UK, promoting peace and reconciliation, but it is with great satisfaction to the Cypriots of Great Yarmouth that this is the first one.”

He added that there has been a Cypriot presence in Great Yarmouth since the 1940s, with the first Cypriots arriving in the town having hailed from Eptakomi.

Those wishing to take part in the tree planting scheme are encouraged to email [email protected] for more information.