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Westonbirt Arboretum plants special oak to get ready for the London 2012 Games

With 100 days to go to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the

Forestry Commission's National Arboretum at Westonbirt is getting ready
to welcome the world by planting one of 40 'Coubertin oaks' - trees
grown from acorns taken from an oak planted in 1890 in Much Wenlock in
honour of the founder of the modern Olympic movement, Pierre de
Coubertin.

Westonbirt's Coubertin oak will be planted on Wednesday 18th April; close to the location of the arboretum's planned new Welcome Building, which is
currently being fundraised for by the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum
for the Westonbirt Project.

The planting at the Forestry Commission managed National Arboretum is
part of an initiative which will see a ribbon of oaks planted to link
Much Wenlock with the Olympic Park. The trees have been grown from
acorns taken from a tree planted in Linden Field in Much Wenlock, in
1890 in honour of Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic
movement. The tree was planted to celebrate Coubertin's visit to the
location of Dr William Penny Brookes' annual Wenlock Olympian Games.

The acorns were taken by students in William Brookes School in Much
Wenlock in 2004, in anticipation of London winning the bid to host the
Olympic and Paralympic Games. The following year the small oak saplings
were transferred to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew where professionals
have overseen their growth and prepared them for planting.

The National Arboretum joins a group of schools and colleges which have
been invited to participate in the project as part of the Get Set
network, the official London 2012 education programme, and situated
along the route of the ribbon.

The ribbon will pass through various points from Much Wenlock to the
Olympic Park, including Stoke Mandeville Combined School and The
Mandeville School, both close to Stoke Mandeville Hospital - the
birthplace of the Paralympic Games.

Coubertin Oaks will also be planted at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew
and UPS premises in Camden.

Pam Warhurst, Forestry Commission Chair, said: "We are delighted to be
part of this project that connects the 2012 Games to its origin and
involves schools in a green Olympic legacy."

Simon Toomer, Director of Westonbirt, The National Arboretum said: "It's
a real honour for Westonbirt to be chosen as a site for one of the
Coubertin Oaks. The tree will provide a lasting reminder of the 2012
Olympics and the arboretum's international links."

Stephanie Bryan of Rose Hill Westonbirt Preparatory School said: "As
part of the Get Set network of schools and close neighbours of
Westonbirt Arboretum, pupils from Rose Hill Westonbirt Preparatory
School are delighted to be involved with the ceremonial Olympic tree
planting at the arboretum."

London 2012 Chair Sebastian Coe said: "I'm delighted that the Forestry
Commission is getting ready to welcome the world by planting a Coubertin
Oak, now Westonbirt Arboretum will have its own piece of London 2012
history."

Royal Botanic Gardens Head of Arboretum & Horticultural Services Tony
Kirkham said: "Working with the entire team on the Coubertin oak
planting has been a most incredible and enjoyable project from its
conception over 6 years ago; all the hard work and commitment from
everyone will leave a long lasting legacy of oak trees linking Much
Wenlock to the 2012 Olympic site in London."

The Coubertin oaks project is being delivered by London 2012, Forestry
Commission, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Much Wenlock Tree Forum, Wenlock
Olympian Society, William Brookes School and the Woodland Trust. The
Tree Council is also providing planting support to schools and UPS are
leading on logistical support.

Venue: Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, Gloucestershire, GL8 8QS

Westonbirt, The National Arboretum is managed by the Forestry Commission
and is renowned worldwide for its tree and shrub collection. Home to the
National Japanese Maple Collection, the arboretum covers 243 hectares
(600 acres) and contains 16,000 specimens. Visitor numbers are over
350,000 a year, with a membership of over 28,000. Westonbirt Arboretum
was established in the 1850s by wealthy landowner Robert Holford, and
later developed by his son George Holford. Unlike many arboretums,
Westonbirt is laid out according to aesthetic appeal rather than
scientific or geographical criteria. 
Visit www.forestry.gov.uk/westonbirt.

Source: Westonbirt, The National Arboretum

 

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