Tuddenham St Martin: Association’s new secretary enjoys smell of pine all year round

THERE are still 138 days until Christmas – but for one Suffolk man the festive season runs all year round.

The unmistakeable aroma of fresh pine trees is as synonymous with yuletide celebrations as mince pies and roast turkey.

And it is a scent which Harry Brightwell has grown accustomed to.

The 60-year-old, of Tuddenham St Martin, is the new secretary of the British Christmas Tree Growers Association (BCTGA) and has been busy caring for his range of Nordic spruces, which grow almost on his doorstep.

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.

“It is such a special time of year for so many families and its nice to have involvement in that,” Mr Brightwell said.

He turned his hand to the unusual industry after spending most of his career working in the public sector and in IT.

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And while Santa is busy spending the year keeping a watchful eye over his army of elves, Mr Brightwell is ensuring his spruces are well looked after and ready in time for the arrival of St Nick.

Mr Brightwell, who is also a parish councillor for Tuddenham, said: “It is really nice to have the smell of pine throughout the year – many only get it during the Christmas period.

“Children will always remember going out and picking a tree which is then cut down and given to them to decorate, but I don’t think they would remember going up to the loft and dragging down an old artificial one.

“Most people don’t really realise the work that goes into growing a Christmas tree. It takes quite a lot of looking after and care.

“I have enjoyed having customers come along and choose their own tree. It makes it a more personal experience.”

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.

The father-of-three and grandfather-of-two hopes to spread the word of the BCTGA, which offers support and advice to more than 320 growers around the country.

“It’s quite difficult in the sense that the man who did it before me (Roger Hay), had been doing it for 15 years. So he was running things really well.

“I just hope to bring a new pair of eyes to the growing of Christmas 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.

For more information about the BCTGA visit www.bctga.co.uk.

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