A SCHOOLBOY from York has helped his family business win the Champion Christmas Tree of the Year crown.

Joe Combe, 12, who goes to Terrington Hall School, has helped his family win the title of Champion Christmas Tree Grower of the Year in the UK which means they will supply the giant tree for outside 10 Downing Street during the Festive period.

Joe was helping his father Oliver, owner of York Christmas Trees in Wigginton, to choose their entry for this year’s competition which was staged at the Yorkshire Showground and judged by Yorkshire Shepherdess Amanda Owen, star of Channel 5’s ‘Our Yorkshire Farm' together with Peter Wright from Channel 5’s ‘The Yorkshire Vet’ alongside head judge Stuart Kirkup of Dartmoor Christmas Trees, in Devon, who won last year.

Oliver had his favourite tree for the competition but Joe was adamant his choice of Norway Spruce was better and said:“Dad thought he had found the right one but I knew mine was better. I can’t wait to got to London and see one of our trees outside the Prime Minister’s house.”

Forestry expert Oliver is particularly delighted that the winning tree came from the field he will use for a Pick Your Own service that has been instigated to deal with the social distancing restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Oliver said: “We have put a number of measures in place to keep everyone safe at Christmas including Pick Your Own and Click and Collect. The slots to pick your own tree can be booked online on our website for November 21-22 and November 28-29.

“We are a small local family business who have been growing trees for over 20 years and we are overwhelmed to have won the title of Champion grower for 2020, it is a wonderful accolade. We are hugely grateful to our family and those who work with us, as they have made this possible by all their hard work over the years. This has been a tough year for everyone, but we are determined that in 2020 “Christmas is coming home.To have won is incredible and we will be identifying the 16ft tree that will be sent to London to stand outside 10 Downing Street. Normally, I am only allowed to talk about trees for one month of the year but after being crowned Champions I am being given a bit more.”

Organised by the British Christmas Tree Growers Association (BCTGA), the annual competition has been running since 1999 but this is the first time it has been judged by celebrities as due to Covid19 restrictions all the growers could not get together as usual.

Heather Parry, Managing Agent for BCTGA, said: “We were delighted by the number of entries, particularly as competitors couldn’t attend in person, we have certainly set solid foundations for it to be an even bigger next year. The quality and the amazing scent of the trees on display was incredible; this is truly the Oscars for Christmas trees. It was heartening to hear also that many growers are selling more trees than normal, as consumers plan ahead to have a real Christmas tree as the centrepiece of their home this year."