Thursday, 05 August 2021

Couple deliver PM’s Christmas tree

A CHRISTMAS tree from South Oxfordshire has been delivered to 10 Downing Street.

A CHRISTMAS tree from South Oxfordshire has been delivered to 10 Downing Street.

Andrew Ingram, who owns the Tree Barn in Christmas Common, transported the 18ft 6in Nordmann Fir tree to London with his wife Jane, manager Gary Walford and employee Michal Weizer.

Mr Ingram was given the honour of supplying the Prime Minister’s tree after winning a competition to find the best Christmas tree in Britain for the second time in three years.

“It is a beautiful tree,” he said. “We are very proud of it.”

The group was given a tour of No 10 by the housekeeper during their visit but did not meet David Cameron as he was travelling to South Africa to attend the Nelson Mandela memorial service.

However, on Sunday London Mayor Boris Johnson visited the Tree Barn to buy his tree. Mr Ingram is unsure whether he will enter the British Christmas Tree Growers Association competition again.

He said: “I think we should retire gracefully because we have won it twice now but Gary is very keen to do it again so we will have to see. We might have a go in 2015.”

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

years old and has come along to these presentations and every fund-raising event and has behaved impeccably.”

Miss Roberts plans to expand the appeal and equip four secondary schools in the area, Gillotts, Chiltern Edge, Piggott and Langtree, with defibrillators.

Then she wants to buy special cases that would allow the machines to be stored on an outside wall of the schools so they are available to the general public outside school opening hours. Each case costs £600.

Miss Roberts said: “It came to my attention that we were putting these fantastic pieces of equipment into the school but for 16 to 20 weeks a year, as well as at weekends, they’d be locked up.

“It was glaringly obvious what to do. In Peppard, for example, there’s a tiny school and quite a large elderly community. There is a telephone box outside the school and they said it would be a great idea to keep it there. In Sonning Common, they would like to put it on the wall of the library.

“I have a personal reason for doing the schools but let’s get every community covered. Next year we’re aiming to get them into the hamlets in South Oxfordshire.

“For the sake of £1,800 they can have their own defibrillator in a secure box in the village hall, school or phone box. It’s not a lot of money to potentially save a life.

“Great Britain is so far behind Europe and America. The other day I was talking to someone from France who said there is a defibrillator on every street corner there.

“Despite recent cardiac arrests in Henley, there still isn’t one in the town centre. We’ve got to stop talking about it and have one put there.”

The first external box will be installed at the Piggott School in Wargrave after a donation of £12,00 by the Mobbs Memorial Trust.

Miss Roberts also wants to link up with a national charity called Millie’s Trust, which was set up by Joanne and Dan Thompson after their nine-month-old baby Millie died after choking at a nursery in Stockport. The charity pays for parents to have first aid lessons.

Defibrillators provide an electric shock which restarts the heart if a patient goes into sudden cardiac arrest. Miss Roberts said: “We lose 100,000 people a year through sudden cardiac arrest. Without a defibrillator we have a five per cent chance of survival.

“There’s always going to be some people who sadly can’t make it but we want to give people the chance.”

Grainger, who travelled to Crazies Hill on Monday after attending the BBC Sports Personality Awards in Leeds the previous evening, said: “Everyone involved has been amazed at how quickly the appeal became a success and how soon we’ve got the defibrillators into the schools.

“It’s lovely to see them in the place where they will stay and make a difference. We said from the very beginning that it’s a local charity and the priority was to get them into schools but the more places that have them, the better. There should be no limit on the ambition.”

Crazies Hill headteacher Eileen Holmes said: “It is a wonderful opportunity to be included in such a brilliant initiative. These devices are absolutely crucial and the fact we’ve got one in the school in such a remote area is great.”

Millie has been under the care of Great Ormond Street Hospital since she was 18 months old having been born with tracheobronchial malacia, a disorder of her respiratory system.

She suffers breathing difficulties and recurrent chest infections. She takes medication three times a day to regulate her heart rhythm and will need surgery when she is eight or nine.

Other donations included £1,000 from Oxfordshire county councillor David Nimmo Smith’s locality budget, £350 from collection boxes, £250 from Wargrave author Hannah Skaanild from the sales of her Just A Cat... And That Is That series of children’s novels, £250 from the Charities Aid Foundation and £110 from a Halloween party at the Baskerville Arms in Shiplake.

Future fund-raising activities include a concert featuring Henley singer Naomi Vallance on January 25 and a wine tasting evening at Phyllis Court Club.

To make a donation to the appeal, send a cheque, made out to “Millie’s Dream”, to: Barclays Bank, 10 Hart Street, Henley, RG9 2AX. The account number is 23727610 and the sort code is 20-39-53.

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