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Mum-of-two who married a tree celebrates their first wedding anniversary

Readers Lounge By Mirror
Kate Cunningham on her wedding day in September last year (Image: John Hegarty/Triangle News)

A mum who married a tree left her boyfriend at home as she marked her first wedding anniversary.

Kate Cunningham, who changed her surname to Elder when she and the elder tree tied the knot, said the pair are more loved-up than ever and they have no plans to divorce.

The traditional gift for a first wedding anniversary is paper.

The 38-year-old said it was one of the best decisions she has ever made when she married the tree at Rimrose Valley Country Park in Sefton, Merseyside in September last year.

She celebrated her first year of marriage with two friends and some elderflower champers - leaving her boyfriend and two kids at home. She admits her 15-year-old son is "a little" embarrassed.

Kate visits her 'husband', an elder tree, several times a week (Image: Triangle News)

The former teaching assistant admitted that she sometimes clocks up to five visits a week and will forever remain ‘tree-voted’.

She said: “Trees will always come first. They do keep us alive."

She immediately knew it was “the one” and is regularly spotted climbing the branches.

Kate added: “I think getting married was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

The marriage was a stunt to raise awareness about plans for a bypass through the area (Image: Triangle News)

“Me and my friends went over to the tree and said hello for a small celebration, a couple of days ago.

“It was a little gathering with two friends where we raised a toast and had a glass of elderflower champagne.

“Not once have I thought that I shouldn’t have done it. It’s something that I feel like happened at the right time.

“Despite causing a little bit of embarrassment for my 15-year-old, he sees the bigger picture now and understands what it’s for.

“It’s something which has made me feel a bit more confident about myself. I don’t care about what anyone else says.

“Marrying the tree has given me a new purpose.

Kate changed her surname to Elder when she married the elder tree (Image: John Hegarty/Triangle News)

“I’ve changed my name to Elder. So even that gives me a whole new feeling. It fits in with married life as well, I feel like a changed person.”

Kate, who works a carer for her son, who has autism, wore an olive dress and floral headdress as she said her nuptials with the towering tree, last year.

The ceremony was attended by dozens and the local musician and poet Davy Edge performed.

It was inspired by female activists in Mexico who held similar ceremonies as a form of protest to raise awareness of illegal logging and land clearing.

Kate says she feels "a bit more confident" about herself now (Image: Triangle News)

Likewise, she hoped the whacky tactic would attract attention to the campaign to save Rimrose Valley Country Park from being transformed into a bypass by Highways England.

Local residents campaigned to halt the new three-mile bypass, thought to ease traffic congestion, through Rimrose Valley and into the Port of Liverpool.

The new dual carriageway would ruin the park, create traffic related noise and pollution, they alleged.

The proposed work, which was due to start in spring 2020, has been delayed due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Kate anticipates a big anniversary party when their campaign officially halts Highways England’s Plan.

Kate has remained more loyal to her tree than ever.

The wedding was inspired by activists in Mexico who held similar ceremonies (Image: Triangle News)

She said: “I make sure to stop off, even if it’s just for a five minute wander.

“I like to just sit there and soak in the surroundings. I like the peace and quiet.

“Often I like to talk to the tree, I say hello and thank you for your good energy.

“I feel like a stronger, better person that’s more dedicated to the whole campaign than ever before.

“As much as it's about this campaign, I'm thinking about the destruction all across the world. This world is quite beautiful and it can't all be doom and gloom.”

She has called for an annual ‘Marry A Tree Day' (Image: Triangle News)

She has called for an annual ‘Marry A Tree Day' and encouraged more Brits to wed their local shrub.

The way the branches intertwine and the colour of bark makes it "magical", Kate gleefully admitted, as she explained that instantly set her eyes on the tree.

She said: “One day I was looking around tree hunting. I was like ‘oh yeah nice, nice, nice’ as I looked at the oaks, but as soon as I saw the elder, I thought ‘that’s the one’.

“It doesn’t look like anything else around.

“I walked around it for a few hours because the park is so big. It's very diverse with lots of different areas.

“This one stood alone amongst the tree. I just feel like trees are people. Sometimes you just know.

“You know if you feel attracted to someone or smile at them as you walk past, there’s just a natural attraction.

“Trees and flowers are the same. I like the story behind the elder tree."


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