AN ICONIC landmark tree, felled in Yate six weeks ago, is to be commemorated with a sculpture.

One of the town’s sequoias, which stood by the cottage at the Ridge crossroads, at the corner of Station Road and Broadway, was cut down due to disease.

Now members of Yate Town Council have secured funding for a sculpture to be hewn from the remaining stump.

Yate artist Andy O’Neill has been commissioned to create a new artwork for the town, which will also pay tribute to the once majestic sequoia.

“This job will be very special for me. I’ve always lived in Yate and I feel honoured to have been asked to create a new sculpture in my home town from such an iconic tree,” said Mr O’Neill.

“I was born no more than a hundred yards from the sequoia, in the old cottage hospital, and I grew up on the Ridge estate, so that tree has always been a part of my local landscape.

“There were two sequoias that stood together marking the entrance to the Ridge estate.

“They always looked so majestic and everyone who has lived in Yate would be aware of them.

“Coming from a tree surgery background, I noticed a few years ago that one of the trees was starting to look unwell and it was only a matter of time before the tree was deemed unsafe and would need to be taken down for safety reasons.

“When this finally happened I think everyone was sad to see it go as it has always been such a landmark in the area.”

Fortunately tree officer Simon Penfold, Yate Town Council and the arborists who took the sequoia down (Lawrence Tree Services) had the foresight to realise that the tree didn’t need to be removed completely.

They decided to leave a large section of the trunk in place that could then be carved into a large scale sculpture to act as a memorial.

“As yet the final design for the sculpture hasn’t been decided upon,” said Mr O’Neill.

“But I will be meeting with Yate Town Council before Christmas to discuss ideas and will also be engaging with local school children to get them involved with the creative process of designing the sculpture, with a view to starting the carving work at the end of January.

“My original background was in graphic design and I’ve always loved art in all its forms. However a love of the outdoors led me into the world of tree surgery where I learned how to use chainsaws and gained some knowledge of trees and the various uses and qualities of different timbers.

“I was introduced to a ‘chainsaw carver’ - Chris ‘Vaggy’ Wright - and it was a real light bulb moment.

“I started carving as a hobby and the hobby turned into a full time job - I’ve now been doing it professionally for about 12 years.”