Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Grower’s Christmas tree to adorn No 10

A CHRISTMAS tree from Christmas Common will stand outside 10 Downing Street this year.

A CHRISTMAS tree from Christmas Common will stand outside 10 Downing Street this year.

Andrew Ingram, who owns the Tree Barn, has won the honour for the second time in three years after coming top in an annual competition to find the best Christmas tree in Britain.

His winning Lodgepole pine made history as it was the first time in the 15 years of the British Christmas Tree Association competition that a fir or spruce hadn’t taken first place.

Mr Ingram, 65, said: “We thought our tree was good enough to win the pine section but we never thought we would win the overall competition. Until they read out the result we did not think we were in with a chance and I was absolutely gobsmacked when I went up to receive the prize.”

The judges scored the trees based on their foliage, colour, shape and marketability to determine the overall winner from more than 100 entries.

Mr Ingram, who runs the Tree Barn with his wife Jane and daughters Jess and Rebecca, says there is no greater accolade.

“As a Christmas tree grower you cannot go any higher,” he said. “It is a great privilege to do it and from the moment the tree goes up in December it is practically in any picture of anyone walking in or out of 10 Downing Street.”

The tree which will be delivered to the Prime Minister in the first week of December has not yet been chosen but will need to be about 17ft.

Mr Ingram met David Cameron and was taken on a tour of 10 Downing Street after winning the competition two years ago with a fir tree and hopes he may be given a similar opportunity this time around.

He says it’s hard work which makes trees look their best.

“People think that you plant a Christmas tree and you come back six months later and it is a perfect tree but it really doesn’t work like that — for 11 months of the year we are working on the trees. A good tree doesn’t happen by accident.”

He thanked Gary Walford, the farm’s tree manager, for his work. “He is absolutely my right-hand man,” said Mr Ingram. “He does most of the work on the trees and he is really responsible for producing these beautiful trees.”

The Tree Barn re-opened last Friday and Mr Ingram expects to sell about 7,500 trees in the run-up to Christmas.

The Ingrams have been growing and selling trees and festive decorations in Christmas Common since 1970.

Harry Brightwell, secretary of the association, said: “Our tree competition is always popular with our members and this year was no different, with more than 100 entries.

“The standard of the entries was extremely high but Andrew presented a fabulous pine tree that met the judging criteria perfectly.”

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