THERE was an early morning start on Sunday for what is believed to be the tallest man-handled Christmas Tree in Wales being hauled into place in the centre of Rhayader.

Nearly 40 volunteer helpers visited the Elan Valley to select their tree which was cut down and hauled by hand from the forest to the main road, where it was loaded onto a tractor and trailer provided and driven by Owen Pugh and Bleddyn Pugh, for the three mile journey into the town centre.

Following some trimming of the base by tree surgeon Andrew Mills and a cup of tea for the volunteers, together with a warm mince pie provided by the nearby Co-operative store, traffic through the town was brought to a halt as the tree was then hauled by ropes into place alongside the Rhayader Town Clock.

Measuring nearly 40 foot tall it towered over the town clock.

The lighting group which had also decorated the streets of the town with festive lights earlier, then placed a star on the top and decorated the tree with lights for the Christmas season and afterwards all those involved retired to the Royal Oak Hotel for refreshments.

This was the 61st year that the exercise has been organised as usual by the Rhayader Christmas Tree Committee under the leadership of the new chairman David Davies. The tree was as always kindly donated by the Elan Valley Estate to the town of Rhayader.