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Campaign to save tree planted by Suffragettes in 1909

"It remains to this day as one of the symbols of what women achieved through determination, and fighting to have their voice heard to gain independence and female rights."

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By Athena Stavrou via SWNS

A campaign has been launched to save one of the last surviving trees planted by the Suffragettes in 1909 - as a celebration of women's rights.

The 'Suffragette Tree' was planted by Rose Lamartine-Yates - a campaigner who was imprisoned after she marched on British Parliament.

The Austrian Pine is on the grounds of Eagle House, in Somerset, UK. Old pictures show Rose planting it over a century ago.

Renowned women's rights leader Emmeline Pankhurst is among many other women who planted trees on the grounds.

Over the decades the site has been gradually redeveloped for housing, leading to all but one of the trees being destroyed.

Suffragettes Annie Kenney (left) Mary Blathway (center) and Emmeline Pankhurst (right), at Eagle House in 1910. (Public Domain)

The now 98-feet-tall tree is the last one standing and attracts visitors from around the world.

But it is on the brink of disrepair - risking the complete loss of its symbolic saplings.

The tree is now said to be in "desperate need of major and costly remedial work."

A crowdfunding campaign, with a £4,999 ($5,576 USD) target has been set up to provide "specialist work to ensure its safety and survival."

It states: ''We are asking for funds to ensure that the last surviving Suffragette tree can continue as a living memorial to those exceptional and courageous women who, over 100 years ago, founded a movement that was to change the political, social and cultural situation of women in this country and across the world.''

For the last 44 years, Eileen and Keith Paddock, a couple living on the estate, have been the sole caretakers of the impressive 113-year-old pine.

However, over the years limbs of the tree have broken off and the caretakers fear the trunk is in danger of falling completely.

Eileen Paddock, the caretaker of the historic Suffragette tree. (Eileen Paddock via SWNS)

Eileen's granddaughter, Sarah Paddock, who is helping run the campaign said: "Since a little girl visiting my grandmothers on a weekly basis the tree would always intrigue me by its size - little did I know at that stage of its significant role in history.

"It remains to this day as one of the symbols of what women achieved through determination, and fighting to have their voice heard to gain independence and female rights.

"We as a family recognize the need to protect this tree which is a vital part of history for future generations so as they can discover the history, wonder and beauty of this unique part of the community."

The tree is part of a collection found in the same place, where the Suffragettes often stayed to recuperate following imprisonment.

Each tree planting was a special occasion, with suffragettes wearing their finest clothes and WSPU medals, which were awarded for hunger strikes.

The aim of preserving the tree is to: "Inspire present and future generations of women and men to work for equality."

The arboretum was created on a three-acre site on the grounds of Eagle House between 1909 and 1912 by around 60 suffragettes, 46 of whom had been imprisoned in the fight for gender equality.

Suffragettes who took part in planting the trees include Annie Kenney (for whom the arboretum was named), Emmeline Pankhurst, Christabel Pankhurst and Vera 'Jack' Holme.

You can find out more about the historic tree and donate to its preservation fund here.

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