A PEACE tree has been planted in the grounds of Clitheroe Castle as Ribble Valley Council revealed the borough is now home to more than 50 displaced Ukrainians.

The Birch is a show of solidarity with Ukraine and its people driven from their homes by the Russian war.

ts has been planted in the castle grounds near Woone Lane and blessed by the Rev. Andy Froud, of Clitheroe Parish Church.

Ribble Valley Mayor Stuart Hirst, who cut the tree’s first sod, said: “The planting of this tree will show Ukrainian families who have found themselves in Clitheroe after fleeing their country that they are a welcome and valued part of our community.

“Trees are a global symbol of hope, peace and unity, and this beautiful birch shows our solidarity with Ukraine as it defends itself from the Russian invasion.

“The tree will also improve wildlife in the castle grounds and bring beauty and colour to a secluded part of the park.”

More than 50 Ukrainians fleeing their war-torn country have found refuge with Ribble Valley families under the Homes for Ukraine Scheme.

Iryna Barnsley, who was born and grew up in Ukraine and moved to Clitheroe 18 years ago when she married her husband, Alan, said: “It is hard to believe what has happened in my homeland.

“This is a beautiful tree that fellow Ukrainians who have found refuge in Clitheroe will visit many times over the coming months and years to find peace and solace.”

Ribble Valley Borough Council has appointed a temporary Ukraine liaison officer and several community groups and churches have stepped up to support refugees.