SSEN volunteers help Wiltshire hospice raise record £66,000 through tree-cycling scheme

A fund-raising scheme run by a Wiltshire hospice and supported by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) to boost the charity’s resources by disposing of old Christmas trees in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way has raised a record total of over £66,000 in the first week of January. 

For the past five years, Dorothy House Hospice Care has gathered real trees in early January from homes across areas including Bath, Bradford on Avon, Corsham, Frome ,Trowbridge and Westbury. The charity asks people to sign up to the scheme in the run up to Christmas, so they can arrange for their old trees to be collected and chipped in the new year in return for a small donation. 

Dorothy House Hospice Care supports and cares for patients and their families across a 700 square mile area, including Bath and North East Somerset, and parts of Wiltshire and Somerset. Their services are provided whenever and wherever they are needed; at home, in the Hospice, or in the community, to respect the uniqueness of each patient and their family, and empower them to choose the type of care they receive. 

Each year, SSEN has volunteered to help the charity by providing the chippers and colleagues needed to clear the thousands of trees the charity has collected; returning the chippings for use by local authorities and community groups as environmentally friendly, reusable materials. 

SSEN’s Thomas Gardiner – who is based in the company’s Ridgeway region – has volunteered his time to help Dorothy House Hospice since its tree-cycling scheme began in December 2015, with the distribution network operator lending the vehicles and chippers required to carry out the recycling of the trees. This year, he was joined by colleagues - Alan Harris, Craig Hooper and Will Stevens - to handle the largest amount of trees the charity has recycled to date. With nearly two thousand trees to process, the team worked individually across two days (Friday 8 and Saturday 9 January) to ensure social distancing measures were strictly adhered to. 

Thomas said: “In the past five years, the tree-cycling scheme organised by Dorothy House Hospice has gone from strength to strength; raising vital funds, encouraging people to recycle their trees and then using that by-product locally in areas such as green spaces, parks and playgrounds. 

“Sustainability is high on SSEN’s agenda, so to be able to boost Wiltshire’s environment through recycling and raise money for a local charity at the same time is something my colleagues and I were keen to volunteer for. As social distancing measures meant we could only operate the chipper individually, we needed more colleagues this year to be able to safely work in rotation to clear the record amount of trees.” 

He continued: “With current restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic, this fund-raising scheme has enabled people to donate to a worthwhile cause and have their trees collected from outside their homes by a charity volunteer without having to travel themselves or come into contact with anyone outside of their home, and SSEN is delighted to have been able to help.” 

Steph Cox, community fundraiser for Dorothy House Hospice Care said: “This is our fifth Christmas tree collection and recycling scheme, and has come at a time when many charities are being affected by the coronavirus pandemic, so we are especially pleased to have raised a record-breaking sum of over £66,000 in vital funds to support local hospice care. 

“I’d like to say a huge thank you to all our volunteers and donors for their generous help, and to Thomas and his team from Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks for their continued support.”