Tree-mendous display is one woman’s collection

Glenda Tooke with her collection of Christmas Trees at Potter Heigham Methodist Church.

Glenda Tooke with her collection of Christmas Trees at Potter Heigham Methodist Church. - Credit: Nick Butcher

It started with a few lights above her daughter’s crib - and has grown into a collection of more than 1000 trees.

Glenda Tooke’s love for all things arborial means they occupy every nook and cranny at her Rollesby farm.

Fetching the trimmings from the loft and preparing them for display is a two week operation that needs willing helpers and strong arms.

But it is a biennial effort that raises thousands for the local methodist churches that have hosted her hoard.

“Some people thing I am mad,” said the 60-year-old who has been amassing her collection of trees for 30 years and is always on the look-out for a quirky addition.

“Considering the amount I have there are hardly any pairs. I would say 900 are completely different,” she added. “I even have followers that seek me out. Some people really do like them.

“Most people think it is amazing how many there are. Until you see them you can’t really understand the scale.”

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And while some are packed away and stored in outbuildings a few need constant year-round attention to keep them alive like her flowering Christmas tree.

New for this year are some knitted specimens that will sit alongside trees made of cutlery, wooden ones, pottery ones, tiny ones, brass ones, and 8ft-tall ones.

Her forest of fir exhibits has been added to by friends and family who bring back models of all shapes and sizes from across the world.

Meanwhile Mrs Tooke is always alert to new additions, scouring car-boot sales and seizing on post-Christmas bargains as prices drop.

So irresistible is the urge to collect that she even has stores like John Lewis handing over their sparkling spruces. creating a stunning backdrop in local churches.

The next display is at Potter Heigham Methodist Church in Green Lane where most of her personal collection is being set up this week.

Her husband David has been doing most of the legwork, retrieving trees from their various hiding places while she dusts the ornamental ones that spend the year indoors in cabinets.

Mrs Tooke’s newest tree is made from cut books and she stresses that none of them are worth much.

Mounting the display is more about raising money than showing off her trees, she said, although it is nice that people enjoy them.

Around 13 churches in East Norfolk circuit are helping her this time round.

She appreciates trees all year round and especially at Christmas when they became an important symbol.

The Potter Heigham event at the Methodist Church runs from Friday December 4 to Sunday 6, 10.30am to 4pm, Friday and Saturday and 11.30-4pm on Sunday ending with a carol service.