VOLUNTEERS put in a tree-mendous effort to collect hundreds of unwanted Christmas trees in aid of a local charity.

Over 1,700 trees were collected by volunteers from homes across Darlington, raising thousands of pounds for St Teresa’s Hospice.

Waved off by the new Darlington MP Peter Gibson, Rotary president Sue Campbell and St Teresa’s Hospice honorary president Alasdair MacConachie, a team of 70 Rotarians took to the streets in a fleet of vans to pick up the trees for recycling into garden fertilizer.

Residents who booked a collection were asked to make a minimum donation of £6 to help support the hospice, which provides free, end of life care for people in Darlington, South Durham and North Yorkshire.

Rotary organiser David Hayward said: “Thanks to the generosity of local residents we raised over £12,000 in just one day of collecting.

“This is the ninth year that the Rotary Club has been involved in the collection of Christmas trees raising over £59,000 for the hospice to date.”

The operation was run from Darlington Vauxhall dealership Drive with Taylors Butchers providing hundreds of bacon butties and pork pies to help boost volunteers’ energy.

The 23 vans were provided free of charge by Drive, Darlington Council, MT Print and hire companies Enterprise and Charter. The trees were taken away to be recycled by the John Wade Group.

St Teresa’s Hospice chief executive Jane Bradshaw said: “Once again we have had an incredibly positive response to our tree-cycling scheme.

“I would like to thank all the volunteers for giving up their time to take part in the collection and our corporate and community supporters, and Darlington Rotary Club in particular, without whom none of this would be possible.

“And finally thank you to everyone who made a booking for us to collect their tree and help us raise much-needed funds for our hospice.”