Pensioner gifts treasured old Christmas cards to plant trees

Sharon Deyell, from Bixter, Shetland, with some of the thousands of Christmas cards donated to the Woodland Trust charity to be recycled to help plant trees across the UK
Sharon Deyell, from Bixter, Shetland, with some of the thousands of Christmas cards donated to the Woodland Trust charity to be recycled to help plant trees across the UK
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It is famous for being one of the least wooded parts of the UK, but in Shetland one woman in her 90s has donated Christmas cards dating back to the 1970s to support a recycling scheme supporting tree planting across the UK.

The donation was part of a magnificent community-led effort from the northern isles -an estimated 45,000 cards were collected across the islands.

Marks and Spencer runs the scheme, raising cash for the Woodland Trust, which is able to plant a new tree for every 1000 cards collected.

Sharon Deyell of Bixter in Shetland was determined to contribute, despite the lack of trees in the islands and the fact the nearest M&S is in Aberdeen - 260 miles and a 14-hour ferry trip away.

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She put a message on Facebook and soon had 15 volunteers across the islands who agreed to be drop-off points for their neighbour’s cards.

Word went out and the donations started to pour in. Volunteers then took bags of cards to a central point on the Shetland mainland.

All Sharon had to do now was get them to Aberdeen. Step forward local transport firm Northwards who kindly agreed to deliver right to M&S’s door.

Sharon said: “In the midst of all this happening, a lady in her 90s got in touch and offered hundreds of cards she has been keeping for years.

“She went through them one last time, reliving the family memories.

“She has cherished them all these years as mementos, but is determined that she wants them to go to benefit the Woodland Trust’s work.

“She has actually kept cards from as far back as the 1940s but will hang on to them for her family.

“For her it is the cards that make Christmas – she just loves each and every card, so it really was a big thing for her to let so many go for recycling.

“She said she sat at Christmas and would look at each card hanging up and think that everybody who had sent her a card was thinking and caring about her – it was really was just so lovely.” The elderly donor wishes to remain anonymous.

Woodland Trust Scotland Director Carol Evans said: “We are just so touched by this lady’s gesture, the determination of Sharon and her volunteers and the kindness of Northwards. This is surely a great example of can-do attitude. Thank you Shetland.”

For every 1000 cards dropped in to M&S stores for recycling throughout January, a new tree will be planted by the Woodland Trust in the UK.

“In just under two decades more than half a billion cards have been collected and 245,500 trees planted.

The Woodland Trust began the Christmas Card Recycling Scheme back in 1998 and ran it until 2011, aided by a range of retail and governmental funding partners. M&S came on board in 2008 and began running it themselves in 2012 with the Woodland Trust still the benefactor.

Over the years the public have taken the scheme to their hearts – with hundreds of thousands of people, including schools, community groups and businesses clubbing together collecting cart loads of cards.

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The Woodland Trust is also one of nine charities M&S support through their Sparks scheme with a penny from every M&S transaction going to customers’ chosen charity, thousands of customers have signed up to support the Woodland Trust.

The Woodland Trust is the largest woodland conservation charity in the UK. It has over 500,000 supporters.

Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1000 sites in its care covering over 22,500 hectares.

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