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Festive couple light up one of Britain’s darkest villages by decorating 40-year-old Christmas tree


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Festive couple light up one of Britain’s darkest villages where there are no street lights by decorating Christmas tree they planted as a sapling 40 years ago

  • Avril and Christopher Rowlands decorated their huge 52-ft fir with festive lights
  • The couple live in Inkberrow, the inspiration for The Bull in TV series The Archers
  • The Worcestershire village is known as one of the darkest places in the country
  • The couple planted the fir in their front garden as a 6ft sapling 40 years ago
  • The switch-on raises thousands for charity and is now an annual village tradition

A retired couple have lit up one of Britain’s darkest village with festive lights after decorating their huge Christmas tree which they planted as a sapling over 40 years ago.

Avril Rowlands and her husband Christopher put the 6ft fir in their front garden after enjoying their first Christmas at their new home in 1978.

The tree has now grown to 52ft and towers above their four-bedroom detached house in the Worcestershire village of Inkberrow.

Aerial shots show the lit-up tree as a visible landmark in the village. The fir can be seen from a mile away at night 

The huge fir towers above the couple's four-bedroom detached house in Inkberrow

The huge fir towers above the couple’s four-bedroom detached house in Inkberrow 

Avril Rowlands and her husband Christopher (above) switched on the festive lights on Sunday

Avril Rowlands and her husband Christopher (above) switched on the festive lights on Sunday

On Sunday the couple celebrated the fir’s 41st anniversary when they switched on the dazzling decorations.

The lit-up tree is the only landmark visible in the village, which is one of the darkest places in Britain.

Inkberrow – where the 17th century pub is the inspiration for The Bull in Radio 4 series The Archers – is one of a handful of places which doesn’t have any street lights.

As a result the giant tree can be seen from a mile away at night.

Retired TV writer Avril, 74, said: ‘The switch-on event has become an absolute institution for the village and we have hundreds of people see the tree.

‘We’ve even had tourists coming from as far as China to have their pictures taken by the tree.

‘Because of the village’s status as one of the darkest places in the country, when the tree is lit up it really becomes a beacon of light.’

The couple planted the 6ft tall sapling, which they bought for just £6, over 40 years ago

Avril posing next to the tree 10 years later in 1989

The fir when it was first planted in 1979 (left) compared with 10 years later in 1989 (right) 

The couple's Christmas tree pictured in their front garden in 1989. The fir was planted after the Rowlands enjoyed their first Christmas at home

The couple’s Christmas tree pictured in their front garden in 1989. The fir was planted after the Rowlands enjoyed their first Christmas at home 

The couple's annual switch-on has become a village tradition. They use the event to raise thousands of pounds for charity

The couple’s annual switch-on has become a village tradition. They use the event to raise thousands of pounds for charity

The couple moved to the quiet village in the summer of 1978 after selling their home in London.

Avril said: ‘It is amazing to think that the tree started as a 6ft tall sapling which we bought for just £6.

‘I remember after that first Christmas thinking to myself that I didn’t want to just throw the tree out so I planted it in the front garden.

‘It took straight away and every year it’s just grown taller and taller.

‘It now takes 1,100 to light the tree, I don’t look at the electricity bill until after Christmas.’

Avril described the tree as a 'beacon of light' when it is lit up, with the village being one of the darkest in the country

Avril described the tree as a ‘beacon of light’ when it is lit up, with the village being one of the darkest in the country

The fir has now grown to 52ft and takes 1,100 bulbs to be lit. Avril said she 'doesn't look at the electricity bill' until after Christmas

The fir has now grown to 52ft and takes 1,100 bulbs to be lit. Avril said she ‘doesn’t look at the electricity bill’ until after Christmas

The couple’s annual switch-on of their lights has now become a tradition and they use the event to raise thousands of pounds for charity.

Retired BBC editor Christopher, 75, said: ‘A lot of people in the village say that it’s the start of their Christmas.

‘We usually raise about £1,000 a year for charity, a different one each year – this year all the money is going to the Midlands Air Ambulance.

‘Over the last 14 years we’ve raised over £10,000 for charity.

‘We’ve delighted the tree has spread so much happiness and raised so much money. We expect it’ll be for many years to come.’

A spokesman for the Forestry Commission said: ‘This is a remarkable tree which has obviously been taken care of.

‘Pine trees can grow to huge heights so time will only tell if this one grows any larger.’

 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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