The youngest artist to paint the late Queen joins campaign to save Shrewsbury's 'Darwin Oak'

An artist, who became the youngest artist to portray Queen Elizabeth II in 2013, has joined the campaign to save a tree linked to Charles Darwin.

The 'Darwin Oak' in Shrewsbury is one of 37 ancient trees under threat of being cut down as plans for a new bypass in the town have been passed.

The decision to allow the bypass, that has been described as 'completing the missing link' in Shrewsbury's road network, was made in October and work could start by summer 2025.  

However, many people who live near the proposed bypass are worried about the loss of countryside that the road will cause, especially the cutting down of 37 ancient trees. 

They include one called 'The Darwin Oak' which is more than 550 years old and is near to where Charles Darwin grew up and spent a lot of time studying the geology.

Campaigners are hoping to save the Darwin Oak

To start a campaign to save the trees and the countryside, a 'Painting Protest' was held where around 50 artists gathered to paint and draw the tree.

An exhibition of the work is planned for next year and an online petition has already gathered more than 91,000 signatures since the start of the month.

One of the campaigner leaders is Robert McBride who says the Darwin Oak and other ancient trees are vital.

He told ITV News Central the petition has been "signed from nearly half the countries on this planet earth, and it's this planet earth that needs every single one of those ancient trees."

He adds: "We need the carbon sequestration, we need the flood alleviation, we need the pollution absorption, we need the oxygen, number one, we need the oxygen."

Dan Llywelyn Hall painting the Darwin Oak

Among the artists at the protest was Dan Llywelyn Hall, who along with painting the late Queen, has also painted Amy Winehouse and the then last surviving veteran of the trenches, Harry Patch.

Dan has been involved in similar tree campaigns before and says it is important that "in the age we are in we shouldn't be cutting any trees down."

ITV News Central has contacted Shropshire Council about the bypass plans but have yet to hear back.

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