Posted 7th Dec 2017 by Peter Byrne
A tree that is synonymous with Scouting has been crowned England's 'Tree of the Year' in the Woodland Trust's annual contest
Receiving 26 per cent of nearly 7,000 votes cast by the public and a panel of experts, the Gilwell Oak also crowned it the overall UK winner meaning it will now be going forward to the European Tree of the Year competition in early 2018.
The tree will benefit from a £1,000 tree care award, with the money to be used to arrange a health check from an arboriculturalist, offering an interpretation or educational materials, or simply holding a celebratory event in honour of the tree.
The Gilwell Oak can be found at the heart of Gilwell Park in Epping, the home of the scouting movement, which was conceived by Robert Baden Powell. The towering oak has been adopted by Powell to act as a neat analogy in 1929, for not only the growth in the UK scouting movement globally, which started with a small trial camp 21 years earlier, but as a message to young scouts that big things are possible from modest starts.
From 1919 Baden Powell and his contemporaries devised and delivered some of the first adult leader training courses under the branches of the Gilwell oak - these courses were designed to help volunteers develop leadership and youth work skills. Now, the leadership training undertaken by the world's 10 million volunteer Scout Leaders helps the world's 40 million Scouts develop their leadership, planning, teamwork and resilience skills.
The Woodbadge will mark the completion of formal Scout leader training, with the wood badges so named due to the wooden beads which are given to participants were originally carved from windfall branches of the Gilwell Oak.
Beccy Speight, Woodland Trust chief executive, said: “Our competition aims to highlight and celebrate our country’s remarkable trees, and to ultimately ensure they are given the recognition and protection they deserve. The passion shown by the people who nominated trees, and the way the public get behind them in the voting process shows how much of an inspiration trees are to people.”
Bear Grylls, Chief Scout, said: “Scouting is all about helping young people develop skills for life. The Gilwell Oak has been the backdrop to hundreds of courses in which thousands of Volunteer leaders have been inspired and motivated to change young people’s lives in the UK and across the world. It’s the unbending symbol of Scouting’s desire to change the world for the better.”