Blessed recognition for Northern Ireland’s finest trees

Actor and Woodland Trust supporter Brian Blessed is lending his voice to the contest.  Photo by Steve Cowell.
Actor and Woodland Trust supporter Brian Blessed is lending his voice to the contest. Photo by Steve Cowell.

The Woodland Trust is urging tree lovers to stump up nominations for Northern Ireland’s Tree of the Year 2017.

The competition is open to any living and loved tree in the UK; with Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales each having its own contest.

The Great Ardmore Oak, Ardmore, LDerry came runner-up in last years competition.  Photo by Michael Cooper Photography.

The Great Ardmore Oak, Ardmore, LDerry came runner-up in last years competition. Photo by Michael Cooper Photography.

Any individual, group or organisation can enter through the Woodland Trust’s website until 30 July.

Actor and Woodland Trust supporter Brian Blessed is lending his powerful voice to the contest.

He said: “We want to hear about the most impressive, unusual and knobbly specimens – a bit like me!

“After all, trees are more than just a bit of greenery; they are intriguing characters that have become a beloved part of our landscape and history. They deserve to be celebrated and cherished.

We want to hear about the most impressive, unusual and knobbly specimens – a bit like me! After all, trees are more than just a bit of greenery; they are intriguing characters that have become a beloved part of our landscape and history. They deserve to be celebrated and cherished.

Brian Blessed

“It reminds me of a Pamela Tennant poem: ‘But at night do you believe they’re trees? They’re little old men with twisted knees’!”

Each country’s winning tree will benefit from a tree care award of up to £1,000. The carefully tailored package could be used for pruning or professional advice; it could even support a community event in celebration of the tree.

Last year’s competition saw ‘Old Homer’, a holm oak in Rostrevor’s Kilbroney Park, capture hearts and minds to take the Northern Ireland crown. The charity now hopes to find a rightful successor.

Patrick Cregg, director of the Woodland Trust in Northern Ireland, added: “Tree of the Year brings a wonderful opportunity for individuals and communities to nominate and share their best-loved trees. We’re looking for a tree with a story, legend, historical significance, or one which is a local landmark. Our aim is to draw attention to our country’s amazing trees, giving them the recognition they deserve.

Comedian and actor Ardal OHanlon ascends last years winner: Old Homer, a holm oak at Rostrevors Kilbroney Park.  Photo courtesy of STV Productions

Comedian and actor Ardal OHanlon ascends last years winner: Old Homer, a holm oak at Rostrevors Kilbroney Park. Photo courtesy of STV Productions

“Earlier this year, the UK Government recommended changes to national planning policy which specifically put ‘aged and veteran trees’ – and ancient woodland – on par with other protected habitats, such as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. We will be calling for the same protection to be afforded to Northern Ireland’s ancient trees and woods.”

An independent panel of experts in each of the four countries will choose a shortlist from the entries submitted, and the winners will be decided by public vote later in the year.

For more information about the competition and to submit your nomination visit www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/treeoftheyear.

The Wesley Beeches, Lambeg, Lisburn.  Photo by Michael Cooper Photography

The Wesley Beeches, Lambeg, Lisburn. Photo by Michael Cooper Photography

The Picnic Tree, Cloughbane Farm, Pomeroy.  Photo by Michael Cooper Photography

The Picnic Tree, Cloughbane Farm, Pomeroy. Photo by Michael Cooper Photography