Village tree in running to take prestigious title

Raegan and Casey with the black poplar at Acklington First School. Picture by Jane Coltman
Raegan and Casey with the black poplar at Acklington First School. Picture by Jane Coltman

A rare and historic tree which was in danger of being felled a few years ago is in the running to win a prestigious competition – but the public’s support is needed to help it take the title.

The black poplar, which is located in the grounds of Acklington Church of England First School, has been named as a contender in the annual Tree of the Year contest, run by the Woodland Trust.

It fought off competition from an array of nominations to make the final shortlist of 10 trees in England.

The public vote will launch on Monday.

A representative from the Woodland Trust said: “The black poplar is one of Britain’s rarest native trees and the one in the grounds of Acklington school is believed to be the most northerly of its kind in Britain and the oldest thing living in the parish of Acklington.

“The tree, which was there before the school was built in 1852, came close to being felled a few years back.

“Unfortunately bits started falling from it, especially during gales and the knowledgeable health and safety people felt it posed a risk to the pupils.

“However, common sense prevailed in the end and to the relief of the pupils, the local bats, birds and wildlife, and to all nature lovers in the parish, the tree was saved.

“Not only that, it became the centre piece of the school’s new logo.

“The tree has been nominated for Tree of the Year, a competition run by the Woodland Trust and despite receiving more than 200 public nominations, it has made the shortlist of 10 trees in England.”

With the public vote opening next week, people are being encouraged to vote for the tree.

The Tree of the Year competition, supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, is a unique celebration of the links between people and trees.

The contest is open to any living tree in the UK; with England, Scotland, Wales and for the first time Northern Ireland each having an individual contest. The deadline for nominations has closed.

Each country’s individual Tree of the Year will go on to represent that nation in the European Tree of the Year competition, organised by the Environmental Partnership Association.

The Woodland Trust hopes to improve the chances of a UK tree being crowned European Tree of the Year, after the Major Oak, the highest placed tree in the 2014 contest, only finished in sixth place.

For more information and to vote for the black poplar at Acklington, visit www.woodlandtrust.org.uk