Tree Planting For the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee

Ah, but this wasn’t just any old spade. No, the special one with an inscribed silver blade, used in both Platinum Jubilee tree-planting ceremonies on Sunday, 6th February this year, was first wielded in February 1867.

That was for turning the first sod of the new railway line (the Strawberry Line), performed by Mrs Anna Victoria Yatman, Great Great Grandmother of Mr Hugh Gunn. More recently, his Mother used the spade in February 1999 when digging was begun to create Winscombe’s Millennium Green.

So it was very appropriate that Hugh Gunn formed one of the “Queen’s Green Canopy” planting party, along with John Penrose MP, Archie Forbes (Chairman of the Parish Council), Rev. Andrew Hiscox (Vicar of Winscombe and Sandford) and, at Sandford, trumpeter Cole Craggs from Wells Cathedral School. Tony Callow represented the Sandford community there, and Lois Brenchley did likewise for Winscombe. At Sandford, onlookers applauded Cider-maker Martin Thatcher on his recent appointment to the position of Deputy Lieutenant of Somerset, as he too used the spade. Thatchers was represented at Winscombe by Phil Smith. Two Union Flags held by dignified standard- bearers added patriotic colour to the scene.

The sparkling performance of a trumpet fanfare by Cole Craggs at both plantings heralded these memorable events in splendid style. Richard Noy was clearly in his element as a very effective Town Crier cum Master of Ceremonies. Residents who came to support the Sandford planting had the bonus of sunshine, but the midday clouds and wind didn’t deter the Winscombe crowd from equally spirited singing of “I Vow to Thee My Country” and the National Anthem. Both occasions concluded with a rousing Three Cheers for Her Majesty, after the Vicar had prayed God’s blessing on the trees and what they both symbolise.

The Primary Schools were represented by 11 year-old Saffron at Sandford and 5 year-old Josh in Winscombe, with his little sister, 3 year-old Emilia, when the children came forward to place a plaque beside each tree.

The enthusiastic mood of both ceremonies showed how young and old admire and honour our Queen and her shining example of dependability, dedication and service. Those qualities were themselves expressed by the people behind the scenes who enabled this whole occasion to be so successful: the Tree Wardens who procured the oak saplings, prepared the soil and ensured the trees had proper protection once planted; Strongvox for allowing the siting of Sandford’s tree by the entrance to its new housing development; not forgetting the indefatigable William Du Croz who cheerfully master-minded the whole event!