The touching story behind Oban’s Christmas Tree

Oban's Christmas Tree has been chosen in memory of Lindsay Wood, aged 39, who died suddenly in September

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Oban’s showpiece Christmas tree will have extra poignancy this year as it has been donated in memory of a young man who died suddenly.

Lindsay Wood, aged 39, died suddenly of suspected heart failure in September, leaving his family, partner, friends and work colleagues bereft.

As the news sank in across Tilhill Forestry where Lindsay worked as an Argyll area harvesting manager and timber buyer, the firm was approached by Argyll and Bute Council to supply Christmas trees to Oban.

As a special gesture, Tilhill, which has a base in Glencruitten Road, agreed to hand over the 30ft-tall Sitka Spruce as Oban’s showpiece tree in Argyll Square this year.

It comes from a privately-owned forest it manages near Oban, that Lindsay was involved with during his time working in the town, before his move to the company’s Sandbank premises near Dunoon.

It is part of seven other trees given to the town from a sustainably-managed private forest near Oban, from an active harvesting operation.

In exchange, business group BID4Oban, which is funding the cost of installing and decorating the town’s Christmas trees, has agreed to make a generous £1,500 donation.

It will go towards a £1,000 fundraising appeal for the Scottish Mountain Rescue Team which was set up in Lindsay’s name by his brothers Christian and Thomas, partner Tracey and mum Carol, and has already smashed its original target.

The family said: ‘We have been overwhelmed by the amount of kindness, support and thoughtfulness we have received at such a devastating time.

‘Lindsay was a modest, unassuming man who would never have expected such wonderful tributes and the dedication of the Christmas trees in his memory is such a fitting and beautiful gesture.

‘We are all truly touched and grateful to everyone involved.’

John Little, Tilhill’s area manager for the West Highland District North based at Oban, said Lindsay was a fit, active young man who loved mountain biking, walking and climbing all around Scotland and beyond.

Mr Little said his forestry career in Argyll started in Oban, although latterly his office has been in Dunoon, but he was well-known and respected in the forestry and timber industry throughout the West Coast of Scotland.

Mr Little said: ‘His sudden death came as a great shock to us all. His colleagues and the contractors who worked closely with him on the harvesting sites that Lindsay managed were all talking about the positive relationships they had with him.

‘The call from Stuart Clark at Argyll and Bute Council came at a time when the prospect of doing something to remember Lindsay by, and raise some funds for Scottish Mountain Rescue, were very much on our minds.

‘It just seemed right to agree to supply the town’s Christmas trees this year from a forest he was involved with and his family agreed.’

Mr Little added: ‘Locally, as foresters and forest workers, we have also directly benefited from Oban Mountain Rescue’s skills when workers have fallen ill or had accidents in the forest.

‘Their service is very much appreciated by us and we are grateful to know they are there if we need them.’

Mr Little thanked Alan, John, James and Colin at Colin Brolly Forestry and Alan and Denis at Coille Haulage for their help.

‘Everyone working this specific forest, as well as all the other forest industry workers who knew Lindsay, are very pleased to have this opportunity to remember him and to give our thanks as an industry, and outdoors people, to all those involved in mountain rescue all over Scotland,’ said Mr Little.

Andrew Spence, of BID4Oban, said it was delighted to support the good cause.

Mr Spence added: ‘We could not have undertaken this project without the support of Oban Common Good Fund, Flit Hire, Oban Electrics and Argyll and Bute Council.’

The tree was sourced from a sustainably managed privately-owned forest south of Oban. The rest of the harvested trees have been sold to BSW Timber sawmill at Kilmallie, Fort William, for conversion into construction timber.

The felled areas will be replanted with 190,000 new young trees in spring 2022.

People can contribute to the fundraising appeal by going to the Just Giving page at https://bit.ly/3l1sXcd

CAPTION: Oban’s Christmas Tree has been chosen in memory of Lindsay Wood, aged 39, who died suddenly in September.

The Christmas tree on the move with Coille Haulage.
The Christmas Tree in Argyll Square, Oban, which will be decorated soon.