A school has been hailed as “inspirational” for two memorial tree planting projects – ahead of the annual celebration of Scotland’s finest forests and most wonderful woods.

St Marys School in Melrose won the Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards’ schools category in 2018 and used the £500 prize money to plant a Centenary Avenue of trees and launch a project to plant 1918 oak trees for those lost in World War One.

As the deadline for the 2019 Awards approaches, organisers hope the school will encourage others – young and old – to seek recognition for Scotland’s finest forests and woods.

Angela Douglas, Executive Director of Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards, said: “St Mary’s School has captured the spirit of the awards perfectly by using its prize money to plant more trees, in two inspirational and poignant projects which straddle the generations. The school should motivate us all to treasure and celebrate our trees, woods and forests.”

Tom Rawson, the teacher leading the St Mary’s projects, said: “The centenary trees were planted in Melrose to serve as a lasting natural monument in memory of those people from the Scottish Borders who fought in the First World War. It is hoped that, for many years to come, those young people who took part will be able to see their tree growing by the edge of the road – and perhaps take a moment to reflect on what each tree represents for this school and this part of the world.”

Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards 2019 deadline is March 31st with results announced and prizes handed out at the annual ‘Tree Oscars’ at June’s Royal Highland Show.

This year, two prizes are on offer for excellence in farm woodland, plus a unique prize to celebrate 100 years since the 1919 Forestry Act.

Quality Timber, Community Woods and New Native Woods will also be honoured in the largest-ever Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards programme.

“We are delighted to grow the Awards for 2019,” said Angela Douglas. “We are looking forward very much to awarding the one-off centenary prize to an established woodland created during the past 100 years that has evolved through careful and skilled management, has resilience to face the future and justifies the title of one of Scotland’s finest woods.

“We are also very pleased to build on the successful introduction of the Farm Woodland Award, which attracted a very high standard of entries in 2018.”

SAC Consulting, part of Scotland’s Rural College, sponsors the Farm Woodland Award, while Scottish Woodlands Ltd is supporting a second Farm Woodland Award for farmers or crofters and/or their forest or woodland managers aged 40 or under.

Last year’s first Farm Woodland Award was won by Peter Gascoigne, of Broughton in Peeblesshire. He described how his farm had hit the ‘sweet spot’ of environmental and economic excellence, a feature of many of the 2018 winners: “We have commercial forestry, but I have also put a lot of hardwoods in. I want those trees and the wildlife to be my legacy, to survive for generations to come.”

Entries, to be submitted by 31st March, can come from anywhere in Scotland. Respected, experienced judges assess competitive entries to select category winners. Full details of the Awards here