Erskine House Tree named Tree of the Year

14/12/2017

The Erskine House Tree, located at Belfast City Hospital / Queen’s University Belfast, has been crowned Northern Ireland’s Tree of the Year by the Woodland Trust. The annual competition saw six trees across Northern Ireland compete for public favour, with the Erskine House Tree securing 1,732 votes.

The tree was nominated by Dr Gerard Gormley, Clinical Senior Lecturer and Professor Peter Maxwell, Clinical Professor from the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queen’s, and Dr James Douglas, former Nephrologist at Belfast City Hospital.

The tree received widespread support throughout the region, with TV presenter and patron of Northern Ireland’s Kidney Patients’ Association, Eamonn Holmes also lending his support.

The Erskine House Tree is a descendent of the famous ‘Plane Tree of Kos’, Greece, under whose shade Hippocrates, the father of medicine, reputedly taught in 500 BC. In 1966 a Greek doctor, Dimitrios Oreopoulos, undertook kidney research at Queen’s University Belfast/Belfast City Hospital with the world-renowned Dr Mollie McGeown. He later moved to Canada gaining international fame for developing a new form of kidney dialysis. In appreciation, Dimitrios presented seeds from the Plane Tree of Kos, which were planted in the hospital grounds. Only one of these precious trees survives, the Erskine House Tree.

Surrounded by high-rise buildings the tree acts as an oasis of calm for staff, patients and students. A beacon from nature, it represents humanity and hope in our changing world. Northern Ireland should be proud of this tree and its rich heritage.