SEVERE storms earlier in the year brought down many local trees, but few as large as a 25 metre high black poplar which originally stood on the boundary fence of Alvechurch and Hopwood Cricket Club’s ground off Birmingham Road.

The tree crashed down across Willow Brook and onto part of The Meadows playing fields, owned by Alvechurch Parish Council.

Parish council safety checks showed that the trunk and huge root ball were safe but with the cricket season about to start and the annual Picnic in the Park community event just round the corner, the pressure was on to remove the tree and allow easy access from The Meadows to the cricket club.

This is where Network Rail stepped in to help. The company and its contractors are currently working in the parish on the Redditch Branch Enhancement project. When completed later this year, this will mean increased capacity on the Cross-City rail link to Birmingham and better facilities at Alvechurch station.

Construction work on the railway includes felling many trees and as soon as Network Rail heard of the cricket club’s tree problem, they were keen to turn their chainsaws to another use in the parish.

Their specialist tree surgeons, Wildside, who support main contractor Buckingham Group Contracting on railway-based tree work, spent two days reducing the black poplar to a massive pile of logs and wood chippings. The latter have helped improve the path from the playing fields through to the cricket club itself.

Parish council chairman Andy Humphries, said: “I’m delighted that Network Rail and their contractor could help the parish council and cricket club so quickly. They had the skills, experience and equipment needed for such a large tree.”

Roger Clarke, Network Rail’s project manager, said: ”It’s always good to be able to help local people out. We do understand that our construction work can disturb those living nearby and it’s good to give something back to those communities.”

Volunteers from Alvechurch Village Society have weighed in too by replacing a wooden footbridge smashed by the tree as it fell. AVS maintains the footpaths around the parish.