Hardy volunteers thank snow-covered trees in Forty Hall Farm Orchard

Young volunteers hanging bread on an apple tree during the wassail ceremony. Picture by Urvashi Roe

Young volunteers hanging bread on an apple tree during the wassail ceremony. Picture by Urvashi Roe

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Tree-worshippers battled through the cold on Sunday to ensure an ancient tradition was honoured.

Freezing temperatures almost put a stop to the wassail ceremony in Forty Hall Farm Orchard, Forty Hill, but hardy orchard volunteers did not want the weather to ruin the event.

The ancient rite saw crowds gather to sing a wassail song in the orchard, run by Capel Manor College, to thank trees for the fruit they produce and wake them up in time for the coming year.

A wreath of bread, soaked in mulled cider, was hung on the tree as a blessing during the orchard’s second wassail.

Kate McGeevor, centre coordinator at Forty Hall Farm, said: "The orchard has come on fantastically over the past year and it is all thanks to the hard work of our volunteers.

“They've never let a bit of bad weather stop them before so I wasn't surprised that we found ourselves in the freezing cold, singing and hanging bread on a tree!"

The ceremony, which has been held in the UK for hundreds of years, is most popular in the cider-producing areas including Devon, Somerset, Dorset, Gloucestershire and Herefordshire.

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