In December, the Gilwell Oak came out on top in the Woodland Trust Tree of the Year 2017, supported by People's Postcode Lottery players – but could this mighty old tree be the best in all of Europe?
Players have the chance to vote in the European Tree of the Year 2018 competition, which is searching for the tree with the most interesting history across the continent.
The Gilwell Oak is a strong contender. The tree sits at the heart of Gilwell Park in Epping, Essex, the home of the Scouting movement conceived by Robert Baden Powell. In 1929, the towering oak was adopted by Powell as an analogy for both the growth of the Scouting movement worldwide and as a message to young Scouts that big things are possible from modest starts.
Today, there are 40 million Scouts and 10 million Scout leaders across the world. Upon completing their training, leaders earn the Wood Badge, which is so called because the wooden beads given to participants were originally carved from windfall branches of the Gilwell Oak. To this day, trainee Scout leaders still earn their badge in the shade of this mighty tree.
Annemiek Hoogenboom, Country Director of People's Postcode Lottery said, "We hope as many people as possible will take the time to vote for this marvellous tree, with such an inspiring history. The Scouting movement has had an international impact so it is time to give its tree the international platform it deserves."
While best known for its link to Scouting, the oak also has a more chequered past, as the notorious highwayman Dick Turpin used the tree cover in these parts to prey on stagecoaches between Waltham Abbey and London.
The Gilwell Oak's competition includes a Lithuanian spruce said to have grown from a witch's broom and a plane tree that has stood in the Croatian city of Dubrovnik for over 500 years.
The vote is open until 28th February, so make sure to have your say!
To date, players of People's Postcode Lottery have raised over £6 Million for The Woodland Trust, helping it create, protect and restore native woodland across the UK.