CROSS country runners had to find a new ‘root’ when the tree which had provided a landmark for generations was felled just as they were on the starting line.
‘Top Tree’ will now be used to form a new base for the historic Barnard Cup, silverware that young runners at Barnard Castle School have competed to win for the past 125 years.
The ash tree will also be used to create new honour boards and commemorative coasters.
As scores of senior boys and girls lined up for the start of the Barney Bash, the qualifying round for the historic Barnard Run, chain saws could be heard felling the old tree.
Race organiser, teacher Charles Alderson, had to redesign slightly the cross country course, which takes athletes around the school grounds before heading off site in front of Bowes Museum and around the Demesnes.
All the school’s student take part in the Bash, which every year raises funds for charity. The top 10-15 runners then qualify for the Barnard Run, on March 13, which this year will see the new Lord Barnard present the prizes for the first time.
Students have chosen to support the charity CRY – Cardiac Risk in the Young – in memory of old Barnardian Alan Lumley who died last year on his 31 st birthday after collapsing during a half marathon.
The solicitor was a keen sportsman and played in the first XV in 2003 when Barnard Castle School reached the final of the Daily Mail Cup at Twickenham.
First boy home in the senior Bash, Year 11 student Caleb Ellis, 16, of Dalton, Richmond, said: “It is a really good cause because what happened to Alan could happen to any of us if heart conditions like his go undiagnosed.”
First girl home, Year 11 student Anna Everall, 15, of Barnard Castle, said: “It is a great cause and knowing what happened to Alan really spurred us on to raise as much money as possible.”
Headmaster Alan Stevens said: “The Barnard Run is one of the seminal moments in the school calendar which embodies the enduring spirit of the school.
“Every student takes part in the Bash and this year will also see our Prep School join in the fun – that’s a lot of bodies moving in the same direction, thinking about an old boy and a very worthwhile cause.”