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The campaign to find Cumbria’s Top 50 Trees - and you can vote for your favourite

PUBLISHED: 00:00 17 March 2017

The Courageous Tree nominated by Sue Bond. Photo by Val Corbett

The Courageous Tree nominated by Sue Bond. Photo by Val Corbett

Val Corbett

A woman’s love for a remarkable ash is just one of the stories unearthed in a Lake District project to find the region’s favourite tree.

Sue BondSue Bond

What have trees ever done for us? Well, an awful lot.

They provide us with oxygen, they store carbon, provide stability to the soil and are home to a huge range of wildlife. They also provide us with shelter, fuel and tools. And we have an emotional attachment to them.

Put simply, if there were no trees there would be no us. So why not celebrate the planet’s biggest plants?

That’s exactly what is happening in a unique project giving people the chance to vote for Cumbria’s top tree.

In the running are a tree stump, a 400-year-old oak and a ‘smiling’ fir. Tree lovers can vote by going on line at www.cumbriastop50trees.org.uk or by visiting one of a series of exhibitions about this Heritage Lottery funded project running until May 31.

‘The winning tree will represent Cumbria in national and international tree competitions which are great opportunities to put our county’s amazing tree heritage on the map,’ said project co-ordinator Iris Glimmerveen.

Over the last year, members of the public have been nominating their favourites and these have been whittled down to a final 50. Nominations included deeply personal and moving accounts of people’s attachment to certain trees.

One of them, pictured above, is a remarkable ash tree shattered in half, probably by a lightning strike. It overlooks Coniston and was close to the heart of Sue Bond for at least 20 years.

Sue, a life-long non-smoker, nominated what she called The Courageous Tree because it gave her so much inspiration, particularly in her battle against lung cancer. ‘This tree feels like an old friend and I always refer to it as The Courageous Tree,’ she said. ‘It has beauty, courage and deserves love. It has suffered severe damage and trauma, yet it clings to life with amazing tenacity.

‘I have always empathised with those needing support, recognised other people’s hurt, sorrow, injustice or mistreatment. This tree now encourages me to be tenacious and hopeful. If this tree can survive, then I have a chance too.’

Sadly, it was not to be. Sue died, aged 61, in January but her husband Jeff is now continuing to represent Sue’s nomination as a tribute to his late wife.

Said Iris: ‘It is these stories and individuals’ affection for specific trees that makes this project so unique.

‘Most of the nominations were trees that I have never heard of but which people nevertheless felt attached to. As a key aim of Cumbria’s Top 50 Trees is to encourage local authorities, landowners and official bodies to look after individual trees, this gives real power to the argument that any tree, anywhere, no matter how big or small, can matter to someone and should be protected.’

Voting will run until the end of May. The winning tree will be announced in June when a special commemorative book and map of Cumbria’s Top 50 Trees will be published.

Don’t miss next month’s Lancashire Life where we’ll feature an art project that’s putting the spotlight on seven special Lakeland trees.

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