Coronavirus nearly scuppered Liverpool city centre's real Christmas tree this year until one quick thinking council employee got involved.

Kenny Brew, from Dingle, who is Liverpool council's city centre Streetscene manager, was tasked with sourcing this year's 50ft Christmas tree to go on display in Church Street.

In a blog post on the council's internal website, which was shared across social media by Riverside councillor Steve Munby, Kenny said: "Liverpool Council's Streetscene team usually arrange for delivery of the 50ft tree, which is usually placed along Church Street.

"Planning for Christmas is usually all done and dusted by July. This year, however, with the various restrictions throughout 2020, it was delayed and threw up a few challenges too.

"One of the biggest challenges was sourcing the real Christmas tree that takes centre stage on Church Street. Even in years gone by, it’s not been easy to find a 50ft tree."

The council usually source the huge tree from the Forestry Commission and collect it from Northumbria to bring back to the city.

Kenny Brew, Liverpool council's city centre Streetscene manager with the Christmas tree
Kenny Brew, Liverpool council's city centre Streetscene manager with the Christmas tree

This year, however, Kenny said: "A couple of days before our trip, we received a call to say the forest was closed due to Covid and they could not supply our tree.

"Where else could we get a 50ft real tree? That was the daunting challenge we now had to face, with time now running out and the knowledge that many other town and city centres would have the same issue."

Not to be daunted, Kenny searched the country for an alternative giant Christmas tree supplier, coming across a company in Solihull who could provide the tree.

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Kenny says he "didn't think they had any forests there" so was surprised by the location, yet jumped in his vehicle and made his way to a private plantation in the West Midlands, which said it could accommodate Liverpool's festive needs.

He said: "My fear of not finding a tree (and explaining that when I got back to Cunard that all options had been exhausted) were quickly dispelled when my eyes caught sight of a stunning 48ft Norway Spruce tree which was quickly reserved and labelled for Liverpool."

The Streetscene team took delivery of the tree on Sunday and it has been dressed with 14,000 lights and baubles before the switch on today, Thursday November 26, without the usual fanfare of previous years due to coronavirus.

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A traditional nativity will be under the tree, as in previous years, after the figurines had undergone a refurbishment by Liverpool firm E Carrara and Sons, based in Kensington, who had originally supplied them to the council nearly 40 years ago.

Kenny said: "To go with our tree and nativity scene, we have dusted off some of our old lighting features from storage and installed them, after our lighting engineers gave them a thorough once over, to create a trail all the way from China Town to Old Hall Street.

"And, for the first time ever, we have new lighting features along Hope Street between the two cathedrals, a fitting display of angels playing trumpets, in the direction of the cathedrals and the Philharmonic Hall.

"We have also once again installed light curtains on the front of St George’s Hall and provided a tree and some lights to complement our fantastic Town Hall.

"It’s been a challenging and stressful year for us all and we hope that the lights, tree and nativity will bring you and your families joy as you walk through the city centre this year."