Avril and Christopher Rowlands moved to their two-story home in Inkberrow, Worcs all the way back in 1978. To commemorate the occasion, the couple bought a fir at their local garden center for £6. The sapling was supposed to bring curb appeal to their home. 43 years later, the fir towers over their neighborhood.
43 years later, the tree has grown more than 50 feet tall. It brings a bit of intrigue to the town of 2,000 people, which is best known as one of the darkest places in the UK, as there are no streetlights. At least, most of the year it doesn’t.
For the month of December, the Rowlands’ massive conifer becomes the single streetlight in Inkberrow, though calling it a beacon might be a better word.
The Rowland household in 1978. Credit: SWNS.
“The switching on of the lights has become quite a village tradition,” says Avril. “A lot of people in the village say that it’s the start of their Christmas.”
As the tree has gotten bigger, it has begun to attract attention. What was once a spectacle for neighbors has become a sight for the whole town. The Rowlands use a cherry picker to decorate their tree with 3,000 lights. With so many bulbs, the tree easily lights up its surrounding area unlike anything else.
After nearly two years of intense Covid restrictions, the majority of the town’s 2,000 residents came out to the Rowlands’ street at the beginning of December to witness the grand switch-on of the tree. To celebrate the end of a difficult two years, they had a friend bring their trailer to play Christmas music and even set off fireworks. The night was truly a magical experience for all who attended, including Avril and Christopher Rowlands.
The tree lighting ceremony. Credit: SWNS.
The tree has rooted itself as such a celebrity that people send them Christmas letters addressed to the Rowland tree. The couples call the gesture “sweet” and say “It’s been wonderful to see so many people enjoy the lights this year.”
The Rowlands have taken their tree lighting to a new level. Instead of accepting donations themselves, the couple asks that attendees and admirers donate to a cancer research charity online to honor the memory of a close friend who passed from the disease this year. To them, that is the greatest gift anyone could give.
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