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Ancient tree struck by lightning

PUBLISHED: 11:29 10 July 2010 | UPDATED: 14:45 02 August 2010

STAFF and pupils at a west Norfolk school which was struck by lightning have told how they feared they would lose a much-loved, 400-year-old tree.

STAFF and pupils at a west Norfolk school which was struck by lightning have told how they feared they would lose a much-loved, 400-year-old tree.

Riddlesworth Hall School, near Diss, is situated in vast grounds, the focal point of which is a huge cedar tree. This and the school building itself was struck by lightning during a storm on June 22.

Although nobody was hurt, the crown of the tree, which was 35ft, weighed 15 tonnes and made up about one third of the whole thing, was struck. After being assessed by a tree surgeon and a fearful few days where it looked as if the entire might have to be felled, the crown was removed.

Wife of the school headmaster, Sally Cockrane, said: “In the afternoon, at about 3pm, we had an almighty storm and lost our entire internet and telephone lines for about 10 days because the hall was stuck by lightning.

“There was an incredible bang and fizzing and then we looked out of the window and bark was flying off. It was all quite dramatic and quite terrifying. The next day we had the first of four tree surgeons up the tree.

“The first priority was to make the tree safe but with an idea of conservation and preservation, it's just an integral part of Riddlesworth and everybody holds it in great regard. To lose it would have been devastating.”

The felled crown will now be turned into benches and a totem pole reflecting projects undertaken by key stage one and two children. All wood chippings have been spread around the school.


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