AN international centre for education in the Forest is aiming to create a lasting, living memorial to honour the legacy of Her Majesty The Queen.

The team at the ASHA Centre, located at Gunns Mill House in Flaxley, have unveiled plans to honour Her Majesty by creating an memorial fruit orchard, called ‘Queen’s Way’.

A range of the “best quality” fruit trees will be planted in lines at the centre to create a living walkway for visitors, providing a space to remember and reflect upon the legacy of Her Majesty for many years to come.

The ASHA Foundation and Centre provides “transformational educational experiences” for young adults of different nationalities and religions, helping them to gain real-world skills and the confidence to apply them with a focus on sustainable living and the arts.

It was founded in 1996 by humanitarian and author Zerbanoo Gifford, whose extensive work as a human rights campaigner includes serving as director of Anti-Slavery International and of the Charities Aid Foundation, as well as being an active figure in the movement to end apartheid in the 1980s.

Following the Queen’s passing, it was decided that the team would create a memorial at ASHA for Her Majesty, in honour of her service to the United Kingdom.

Zerbanoo said: “I know that is the most significant tribute we can pay to a great soul who would have wanted us to plant trees to celebrate her extraordinary reign and life.

“It will be there for generations for all to enjoy who come to the ASHA Centre from all over the world as well as all of us that live in the beautiful Forest of Dean.”

‘Queen’s Way’ will be created by ASHA’s head gardener Steve Hall of Newnham, who is responsible for creating and managing the collection of “stunning” gardens at the centre.

Zerbanoo also paid her own, personal tribute to Her Majesty through reflection on her first meeting with her back in 1983.

She recalled: “No one forgets the first time they are presented to the Queen Elizabeth. She was sensationally beautiful in her whole being. For me she had grace which is a very precious quality possessed by few. The Queen was unique.

“My very first meeting with her Majesty is engraved on my memory. It came about through the Indian industrialist Sohrab Godrej who was a friend of the British royal family.”

Mr Godrej had worked with Prince Phillip to fund and launch the World Wildlife Trust, and was also very close to the Queen Mother.

“He always visited them with my husband Richard on his annual visit to England.”

She recalled how at her first meeting with Mr Godrej, she was asked to make a wish that he would fulfil, and she told him she would like to meet Her Majesty.

“A few hours later I received an invitation from the British High Commissioner asking for my presence at the British Embassy in Delhi on the evening of the opening of the Commonwealth Conference in 1983.

“I flew from Mumbai, then Bombay, to Delhi to be present at that wonderful occasion.

“I waited patiently for Sohrab Godrej to escort me in. He was late.

“I was told to just go in by myself as no one would be allowed to arrive after the Queen.

“Luckily the Maharaja of Baroda was there to lead me in, and we awaited the Queen.

“She walked up to us with Prince Phillip, and I was introduced to her and spoke to her about my work and family. Mr Godrej arrived and rushed over and bowed.

“He was told with a laugh by Prince Phillip that he was the only person that would be allowed in after the Queen and how happy they were to see him.

“Who would ever forget that evening.”