May 23 2013 Latest news:
BY Hollie-Rae Merrick
Thursday, December 6, 2012
PUTTING up your Christmas tree and ensuring it glistens with sparkling lights and decorations is a special time in any household.
But Harry Brightwell is well and truly in the festive spirit after he was given the task of helping to spruce up the tree at one of the country’s most famous addresses – 10 Downing Street.
The 60-year-old, who is secretary of the British Christmas Tree Growers Association (BCTGA), visited London at the end of last week to help deliver a tree to the Prime Minister.
While he has been busy caring for his range of Nordic spruces, he was also planning the delivery of David Cameron’s.
The glittering tree – grown by Mike Craig of Dumfries and Galloway, in Scotland – was chosen after winning a competition among the association’s tree growers.
The Tuddenham St Martin resident arrived in London on Friday morning to ensure the tree arrived in the St Nick of time.
“It was my first year doing this because it is also my first year as secretary of the association,” he said.
“We got there early on the Friday and I think I was most worried about making sure the tree got there on time and that once there it didn’t snap in half.”
The father-of-three and a number of other group members returned to the famous street on Monday to watch as the lights were switched on.
He said: “It was a really great experience and it’s great for the association.
“The couple who came second place in the competition got to put their tree inside number 10.
“It was great to get a bit of a tour and there is now a great smell of Christmas trees when you walk in the Pillared Room.
“The switch on was great, there were hundreds of school children there and three of the finalists from X-Factor were performing too.”
His interest in the trees started about three years ago when he took over a smallholding at Flynn Valley Farm, which came complete with Christmas trees.
Richard and Gail Underwood from Leicestershire were the lucky couple to have their tree put up inside the famous residence, while Marie and Ragni Gilbert from the West Midlands have their wreath hung on the front door after it was voted the best.
Mr Brightwell hopes to spread the British Christmas Tree Growers Association (BCTGA) message about the importance of real trees.
The BCTGA was founded in 1979 to provide a quality standard for tree growers in the UK. The association champions the purchase of real Christmas trees and can offer advice on buying and caring for a tree.
Aside from the Christmas tree business, Mr Brightwell also has Kune Kune pigs and several chickens. His family are working to set up a care farm which would provide people with therapeutic experience with the chance to work with animals.