Have you registered your tree?

The lights may still be twinkling on your Christmas tree but now is the time to start thinking about an environmentally friendly way of getting rid of it.

After raising a record-breaking £102,000 last year, the team behind East Cheshire Hospice Christmas Tree Collection are hoping to have 7,500 trees registered for collection and recycling over the weekend of January 14 and 15.

The trees will all be collected by a dedicated volunteer  team who this year were awarded the Queens Award for Voluntary Service – one of only two groups in Cheshire to receive this prestigious award.

Last year the team behind the Tree Collection service covered 2,080 different roads and recycled more than 69 tonnes of trees and believe their scheme may well be the world’s largest, volunteer-led Christmas tree collection and recycling scheme.

And with a team of around 140 volunteers a day covering 200 square miles of the country using around 37 different vehicles collecting weighing as much as five London buses, they may well be right.

“Our volunteers work really hard over the collection weekend putting in around 2000 man and woman hours but they also have a lot of fun” says one of the organising team Richard Raymond. “We have volunteer drivers, navigators, crew, supporters, cake-makers and biscuit bakers who together all ensure that the weekend runs smoothly”.

Richard is part of the ‘gang of four’ organising committee who started the collection with one car and a trailer 17 years ago and is particularly proud of this year’s Queens Award. “It was a great honour and a reward for all the hard work of every volunteer who has helped us in the past,” he says.

Working with ANSA, part of Cheshire East Council, the trees are ground into mulch before being mixed into compost for recycling back into the soil.

The suggested donation is £4, although average donations last year were three times that amount.

The collections cover the post codes of CW12, SK9, SK10, SK11, SK12 or WA16 – the areas of Macclesfield, Wilmslow, Alderley Edge, Bollington, Prestbury, Poynton, Congleton and Knutsford.

Lisa Ball, Community Fundraiser at East Cheshire Hospice, says “We’re very proud of the volunteer team who have raised more than £678,000 since the scheme first started in 2001.

“All the money raised goes directly to the Hospice to help care for local adults with life limiting illnesses.”

 You can register your tree any time before January 12 by simply logging on to www.echtrees.org.uk and follow the instructions ‘Collect My Tree’ or telephone Richard Raymond on 01625 612025.