1. ITV Report

Couple who planted Christmas tree in front garden in 1978 see it grow 50ft

The Rowlands' Christmas tree now towers above their house Credit: SWNS

A retired couple who planted a £6 Christmas tree in their front garden almost 40 years ago have seen it grow over 50ft.

Avril Rowlands, 71, and husband Christopher, 72, now have to use a cherry picker to decorate the fir each year.

The couple bought the tree when they first moved home in 1978, and photographed themselves planting it in their front garden to mark the occasion.

But since then, the tree has continued to grow - now towering higher than their own house in Inkberrow, Worcestershire.

Lighting the tree kick starts Christmas for many people Credit: SWNS

Now measuring 52ft in height, Mr and Mrs Rowlands are forced to use a cherry picker to maintain the fir.

On Sunday, in time for the festive season, the tree was lit up by with 1,000 traditional tungsten bells.

Avril, a retired TV writer, said: "Inkberrow is one of the only villages in the UK which has no street lights so when the tree is lit up it really is quite a spectacle.

"The tree has become a big part of our lives and we are delighted to light it up each year.

"When we planted it in the garden we never expected it to grow so tall".

The tree was only small when it was first planted in 1978 Credit: SWNS

For the past four years, the couple have hosted a switch-on event with a fairground organ and a steam traction engine.

"A lot of people in the village say that it's the start of their Christmas", Mrs Rowlands said.

"We even get cards addressed to the tree which is quite sweet."

The couple used to use a single string of Christmas lights to decorate the tree during the early 1980s, but as it grew the couple had to buy more and more lights.

Last year, they raised over £1,000 for Cancer Research and Worcestershire Royal Hospital Cardiac Care Unit, which saved Mr Rowland's life after he suffered a heart attack.