Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Copper beech named Tree of the Year

Image caption The Ding Dong Tree gained its name from a tig game, invented by pupils

A copper beech tree which has become part of a primary school playground has been named Scottish Tree of the Year.

The Ding Dong Tree has stood for generations in the grounds of Prestonpans Primary School in East Lothian.

The tree, which gained its name from a tig game invented by pupils, faced competition from five other nominees in a public vote.

The award was announced at a reception at the Scottish Parliament

George Anderson of the Woodland Trust Scotland, which organised the contest, said: "The Ding Dong Tree is on the face of it quite an ordinary copper beech, but it has found a special place in the hearts of the school community.

"It is a great example of what individual trees can mean to people."

Other trees on the shortlist included a 700-year-old yew in Renfrewshire; a Trossachs sycamore which has "swallowed" a bicycle; a giant Himalayan spruce at the Hopetoun Estate near South Queensferry; a Perthshire oak where Scots fiddler Niel Gow wrote famous reels; and the Birnam Oak - the last survivor of the ancient medieval oak wood mentioned in Macbeth.

Iain Gray, East Lothian MSP, who attended the reception, said "I was delighted when the Ding Dong tree was announced as the winner.

"It was up against some amazing contenders from around Scotland, so it really is a fantastic achievement. This is a wonderful accolade for the school, Prestonpans and the local community."

The Ding Dong Tree is such an integral part of the school's life that it has been described as "almost an extra member of staff" as it has been the subject of so many science and art projects.

Its name, however, comes from a tig game in which pupils compete to touch its trunk, shouting "Ding Dong!"

Its canopy makes it an ideal outdoor classroom, and it has also been credited with bringing particular calm to children with complex emotions.

The tree will receive up to £1,000 towards its maintenance and will now go forward to compete for the European Tree of the Year title.

The European title is currently held by "The Oldest Tree of Bátászék" in Hungary.

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