Shropshire Star

Mid Wales' Brimmon Oak is UK Tree of the Year

It's Brim-mon with history and even fought off the threat of a £56 million bypass causing it to be felled.


So it's no wonder the 500-year-old Brimmon Oak been named UK Tree of the Year.

The oak at Lower Brimmon Farm in Newtown has had quite a year. Not only bending the path of the Newtown bypass to ensure its survival, now it has been awarded the title of UK Tree of the Year on a Channel Four documentary, before being crowned UK Tree of the Year by the Woodland Trust.

The historic oak has attracted widespread coverage as part of a campaign launched by Mervyn Lloyd Jones, with the help of tree expert Rob McBride, from Ellesmere, to protect the tree.

About 5,000 people signed a petition that was sent to the Welsh Assembly after original plans showed the Newtown bypass would pass within four metres of the tree.

Today Mr Jones and Mr McBride are not only celebrating the tree's successes this year, they are now looking to branch out in the future, with plans in the pipeline for a book, film and even an ale based on the ancient oak.

Mr Jones said they were delighted to be awarded the title – which holds particular importance for his family.

He said: "My family have lived and worked this land at Lower Brimmon Farm for generations.

"I am the guardian of the tree for my ancestors. So, today with the Brimmon Oak being crowned as the first ever UK Tree of the Year I feel that my ancestors would be proud of what has been achieved.

"Of course it is also now the Welsh Tree of the Year 2016 and goes forward into the European tree of the Year 2017. Eurovision for trees as Rob likes to call it."

Thrilled with the recognition, Mr Jones described the Brimmon Oak being saved from death as "an historic moment for Wales and for the ancient trees of Wales".

Mr McBride said 2016 has been an "incredible year" for the oak.

He said: "What a year for the Brimmon Oak, Merv fought for the tree from the beginning and it was been saved.

"It's certainly raised awareness among the public, especially through social media, and the fact it's been a happy story makes it all the better.

"Things could've ended up a lot differently depending on where things were at with the bypass.

"The thing is we were never against the bypass, in fact it should've been built 40 years ago but not at the expense of the Brimmon Oak, and thankfully the outcome ended up being the right one."

The triumphant outcome and public backing has meant the duo have realised just how significant the tree is to people locally, and now the pair plan to release a book in the coming year on the tree's story, as well as a feature film.

Mr McBride also confirmed a Chester-based micro brewery had expressed an interest in creating an ale in honour of the ancient tree.

Looking further ahead to the tree's future, Mr McBride said the oak will be monitored by scientists in the new year, who will examine the tree's soil levels, as well as chemicals and pollutants.

He said: "We want to see the Brimmon Oak last another 500 years, this is an ancient tree, rich in history and local significance, so we need to do all we can to ensure its long-term future."

Following the latest title, Mr McBride said they are now looking ahead to the next big win up for grabs – European Tree of the Year.

He urged the public once again to show their support and get behind the tree by voting for it when the competition opens in February.

He said: "This year's been incredible but we haven't seen anything yet, the Brimmon Oak has a cultural connection, something that's really struck a chord with the public, and we want to continue spreading that message and educating people. 2017 is going to be a big year for the tree, and our next step is to win European Tree of the Year."

Each winning tree in the Woodland Trust competition will get a care grant of £1,000 and will represent the UK in the European Tree of the Year competition in February.

The Brimmon Oak was one of six Welsh trees shortlisted, along with the Gregynog Oak at Tregynon.

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