It stands tall between Belfast City Hospital and Queen’s University Belfast, and took a well-earned bow because of its remarkable story. In the 1960s, a young Greek doctor, Dimitrios Oreopoulos, undertook kidney research at Queen’s University and Belfast City Hospital, later gaining worldwide fame for developing a form of kidney dialysis. In appreciation of his time here, Dimitrios presented seeds from the Plane Tree of Kos for planting in the hospital grounds. Only one – the Erskine House Tree – flourished and survived. Today it’s an oasis of calm and a symbol of hope for patients, staff and students.
Dimitrios’ son, Dr George Oreopoulos, recently visited the tree and said the gifting of the seed was ‘a symbolic gesture of thanks from a young Greek doctor who was grateful for an opportunity.'
The Erskine House Tree was nominated by Professor Gerry Gormley and Professor Peter Maxwell from Queen’s University, and Dr James Douglas from Belfast City Hospital. The trio are now using their £1,000 award to landscape the grounds around the winning specimen. And in keeping with Dimitrios’ legacy, they’re involving others. Children who live with renal disease and their families were recently invited to a celebration event. They made their mark by putting in plants and shrubs, and listened to the story of this remarkable tree.
Bangor’s weeping ash has something to smile about
The Erskine House Tree had five amazing challengers. A magnificent weeping ash, almost two centuries old, graces the grounds of Bangor First Presbyterian Church in Main Street. It claimed the position of runner-up and an award of £500. Thanks to the award, two wooden benches – crafted from old mahogany pews and complete with cast iron ends – now take pride of place on each side of the tree. The nomination and subsequent handiwork was led by our volunteer Peter Lyons.