Britain's darkest village with no street lights becomes illuminated for Christmas
Britain's darkest village has been lit up by festive lights after a retired couple decorated their huge Christmas tree which they planted as a sapling more than 40 years ago.
Avril Rowlands and her husband Christopher put the 6ft fir in their front garden after enjoying their first Christmas at their new home in 1978.
The tree has now grown to 52ft and towers above their four-bedroom detached house in the Worcestershire village of Inkberrow.
On Sunday the couple celebrated the monster fir's 41st anniversary when they switched on the dazzling decorations.
Incredibly, the lit-up tree is the only landmark visible in the village, which is one of the darkest places in Britain.
Inkberrow - where the 17th century pub is the inspiration for The Bull in Radio 4 series The Archers - is one of a handful of places which doesn't have any street lights.
'We have hundreds of people coming to see the tree'
As a result the giant tree can be seen from a mile away at night.
Retired TV writer Avril, 74, said: "The switch-on event has become an absolute institution for the village and we have hundreds of people coming to see the tree."
"We've even had tourists coming from as far as China to have their pictures taken by the tree."
"Because of the village's status as one of the darkest places in the country, when the tree is lit up it really becomes a beacon of light."
The couple moved to the quiet village in the summer of 1978 after selling their home in London.
Avril said: "It is amazing to think that the tree started as a 6ft tall sapling which we bought for just £6."
'It now takes 1,100 bulbs to light the tree'
"I remember after that first Christmas thinking to myself that I didn't want to just throw the tree out so I planted it in the front garden. It took straight away and every year it's just grown taller and taller."
"It now takes 1,100 bulbs to light the tree, I don't look at the electricity bill until after Christmas."
The couple's annual switch-on of their lights has now become a tradition and they use the event to raise thousands of pounds for charity.
Retired BBC editor Christopher, 75, said: "A lot of people in the village say that it's the start of their Christmas."
"We usually raise about £1,000 a year for charity, a different one each year - this year all the money is going to the Midlands Air Ambulance."
"Over the last 14 years we've raised over £10,000 for charity."
"We've delighted the tree has spread so much happiness and raised so much money. We expect it'll be for many years to come."
A spokesman for the Forestry Commission said: "This is a remarkable tree which has obviously been taken care of."
"Pine trees can grow to huge heights so time will only tell if this one grows any larger."