The iconic Bowthorpe Oak near Bourne will receive a £500 grant from the Woodland Trust after finishing fifth in the contest to crown England’s ‘Tree of the Year’.
The trust, thanks to support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, invited the public to choose from 10 trees across England, with the winner, the Sycamore Gap tree in Northumberland, going forward to the European Tree of the Year competition in 2017.
Any tree receiving over 1,000 votes receives a grant of £500 from the Woodland Trust and the Bowthorpe Oak secured a total of 1,150. The grant can be used to arrange a health check from an arboriculturalist, provide interpretation or educational materials or to hold a celebratory event.
The 1,000-year-old tree stands in a field at Bowthorpe Park Farm in Manthorpe. Its hollow trunk has been used for parties; at one point, it is claimed, three dozen people managed to stand within it.
The Blanchard family which currently run the farm have recently invested in a fence to protect the tree and also hoping to create a car park for visitors and set up a website for people to book to see the tree.
A panel of experts in each country whittled down nearly 200 public nominations to create shortlists based on the nominees’ story, how they would make use of the grant and visual appeal of the tree; 10 trees were chosen in England, and six in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Anne Blanchard said: “This tree is a one off and truly majestic. We are privileged to be its custodians and want to do everything we can to ensure it’s around for many years to come for future generations to enjoy.”
Beccy Speight, Woodland Trust chief executive, said: “Trees like the Bowthorpe Oak have stood for hundreds, if not thousands of years and each will have a special place in peoples’ lives. By celebrating them and reminding people of their value we hope to support and influence those who can ensure they continue to thrive for future generations.”
Annemiek Hoogenboom, country director of People’s Postcode Lottery, added: “We’re delighted our players are supporting the Woodland Trust and providing the opportunity for communities all over Great Britain to celebrate these fantastic trees and care for them long into the future.”
The European Tree of the Year contest looks for the best loved trees from countries across Europe. The 2016 winner, receiving 72,000 of the nearly 230,000 votes cast was the ‘The Oldest Tree of Bátászék’ in Hungary.
The UK is home to one of the largest populations of ancient and veteran trees in Europe and over 9,000 people have signed up to the Trust’s V.I Trees campaign to ensure all Trees of National Special Interest have better long term protection from the threats posed by climate change, development, pests and diseases.