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Bearing fruit! Orchard honour for ex-gravel pit

AN old gravel pit in Erewash has been honoured with an award backed by the King following its spectacular transformation into a woodland haven.

Orchid Wood in Breaston was picked by the Tree Council to receive the Golden Orchard salute.

The beauty spot off Sawley Road used to be a bleak sand and gravel quarry until 1998 when it was filled in.

More than 10,000 trees and shrubs have since been planted – leading to Erewash council granting it Local Nature Reserve status in 2020.

The Tree Council’s Golden Orchard awards were launched to mark the national charity’s 50th anniversary.

They come amid an ongoing push to plant more trees across the country – which was launched two years ago for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

King Charles has been keen to continue with the initiative – called the Queen’s Green Canopy – following Her Majesty’s passing.

The Tree Council has a network of more than 6,000 volunteer tree wardens across the nation. The award was described as a testament to the dedication of those in Erewash – one of whom declared: “This is a great honour for the borough.”

The charity has donated ten large fruit trees which will be planted in a ceremony on Monday 22 January. The wood, which takes its name from an orchid glade, will also receive a commemorative plaque.

Councillor Joel Bryan, who is Erewash’s Lead Member for Environment, paid tribute to tree wardens Bob Swepstone and Marion Bryce along with their fellow volunteers.

Marion is honorary secretary of Long Eaton Natural History Society Wildlife Group. Cllr Bryan said:

        “Orchid Wood is a magical place – unrecognisable from the gravel pit it used to be. This is all thanks to the hard work of the volunteers, who should be immensely proud. We join the Tree Council in paying tribute to them.”

Telly’s Ben Fogle, who is a tireless supporter of the charity’s work, said: “Trees clean the air we breathe and they provide shade, shelter and food for birds, insects and precious small mammals.”

The former BBC Countryfile presenter added: “Above all, in my darkest moments, in times of loss and sadness, trees have provided me and my family with solace, comfort and awe.”

Tree Council CEO Sara Lom said: “Trees embody the past, present and green future of our planet.”

A TripAdvisor review of Orchid Wood praises it as a “relaxing” place to walk. Another hails it as “a great place to get some fresh air and exercise”.

The ten new orchard trees will bear apples, apricots, plums and gages. They will be planted behind two “friendship benches” which were recently installed thanks to an application to the Severn-Trent Community Fund.

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