A HUGE tree which came crashing down at a graveyard in Highcliffe following the heavy storms is being prepared for removal.

The 40ft oak has damaged a number of gravestones at St Mark’s churchyard and the groundsman, Philip Buxton said he is eager for it to be removed as soon as possible so relatives of the deceased are spared any further upset.

Mr Buxton said the tree must have come down on either February 20 or 21, a week after torrential rain and gale force winds up to 70mph sent trees to the ground and caused flooding throughout the area. The church has now hired contractors and Mr Buxton said he is planning the safest way to remove the tree, which is currently resting across several gravestones.

Mr Buxton added: “We have had small trees come down in the past but nothing as big as this one.”