Nellie's Tree in Aberford named UK tree of the year

Image source, Rob Grange
Image caption,
Nellie's tree was grafted from three beech saplings by Vic Stead almost a century ago

A beech tree grafted into an N-shape to woo a sweetheart named Nellie has been crowned the UK's tree of the year.

Nellie's Tree, in Aberford, West Yorkshire, beat a giant redwood in Northern Ireland, a Scottish spruce and a Welsh oak to scoop the overall prize.

Almost 100 years ago, Vic Stead grafted a sapling between two others to form the letter N as he went to meet Nellie.

The tree's romantic history clearly won the hearts of voters, with the winner announced on the BBC's One Show.

Vic's elaborate move also worked with Nellie, as the pair went on to marry and start a family.

The tree remains a popular place for lovers to pop the question.

Image source, Chris Lund
Image caption,
Nellie and Vic later married and started a family

It was nominated for the competition by Vic and Nellie's grandson, Chris Lund, who was told the story as a child by his grandparents on walks past the tree.

For the contest, hundreds of trees were put forward, with nominations whittled down to regional winners for Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales.

Nellie's tree will now go on to represent the UK in the European tree of the year contest in early 2019.

Chris said its victory was a "fitting tribute to my grandparents".

Image source, Rob Grange
Image caption,
The tree sits on the route taken by Vic Stead as he walked to meet Nellie

"I am absolutely astounded and hugely happy with the support the tree has had, I think it's just the wonderful story behind it," he said.

"It just shows how important it is to protect the nature around us and also what we could lose if we are not careful."

The Woodland Trust, which organises the competition, described the tree as a "northern gem".

Kaye Brennan, lead campaigner for the trust, said: "We hope this tree's tale stands as a beacon for the need to protect our special trees and the wonderful tales they have to tell."

Image source, Woodland Trust

UK winner and runners up:

  • England and overall winner: Nellie's Tree, Aberford, near Leeds, West Yorkshire (top left)
  • Northern Ireland: The Giant Sequoia, Castlewellan Forest Park, County Down (top right)
  • Scotland: Netty's Tree, Eriskay, Outer Hebrides (bottom right)
  • Wales: Pwllpriddog Oak, Rhandirmwyn, Carmarthenshire (bottom left)

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