THE festive season has arrived for residents in a Worcestershire village after a giant Christmas tree was lit up the weekend before last.

From small beginnings in 1978, when the tree arrived on the roof rack of a Mini and was planted in a front garden, it has grown to more than 40ft and now boasts 1,000 lights.

Tree owners Avril and Christopher Rowlands, of Poplar Piece, Inkberrow, switched on the lights in front of about 200 residents, a popular event in the village calendar.

Entertainment also included a steam traction engine, a fairground organ playing carols, fireworks and Maac – a life-size teddy bear, along with mince pies and coffees.

The couple have been raising money for charities for the last eight years, and this year are donating funds to Midlands Air Ambulance.

“Inkberrow is a village with no street lights,” said Mr Rowlands. “Our tree is the focal point in the village.

It’s a big special. Our Christmas tree even get Christmas cards saying thank you.”

Last year, the couple raised £1,100 which was donated to Cancer Research UK and the Cardiac Care Unit at Worcester Royal Hospital, which saved Mr Rowlands when he had a heart attack.

Decorating the tree is a huge feat for the couple, who enlist the help of Paul Davis and his wife of S E Davis and Son, who for the last eight years have come along with their high-rise platform.

“We can’t do it without neighbours and other people,”

added Mr Rowlands.

“It’s a nice start to Christmas for the village.” The tree will be lit until January 6 and donations can be left at the post office and village shop.