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Avenues of beautiful flowering cherry trees had long been a feature in Courtenay Drive and the surrounding streets. But many were reaching the end of their natural life span.

In 2011 the residents of Courtenay Drive were dismayed to find that a number of trees had been condemned by Reading Borough Council, with no plans to replace them. Felling took place in the Autumn. Bethan Hopkins, a Courtenay Drive resident, decided that there must be a way forward but from the outset it was a challenge.
Before long, a small band of neighbours had rallied to spread the word and initiate further support and fund raising. Emmer Green Residents’ Association offered to help with publicity and management of the funds. This gave the group an opportunity to approach the Council to offer matched funding and volunteer labour. Once an agreement was reached the two parties were able to work towards a common goal.

In March 2012 the Council installed root barriers in the verges to prevent tree roots causing problems to gas and electricity supplies. Then nine new trees were planted in Courtenay Drive. But this was just the beginning. The momentum spread to adjacent streets. The group secured a grant from Trees for Cities, which paid for 10 trees. By December 2012, that, together with fund-raising, meant twenty-five more trees were planted. Volunteer residents planted ten in Burnham Rise and fifteen in Brooklyn Drive. Crawshay Drive may follow in the future.

EGRA congratulates all those involved and is happy to fund a new beacon tree at the junction of Burnham Rise and Courtenay Drive.