Tree sell­ers the vic­tims of van­dals

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Front Page - by Sarah Mar­shall smar­shall@thek­m­group.co.uk

IT’S not just Christ­mas trees be­ing dec­o­rated this year, but signs ad­ver­tis­ing trees have re­ceived an un­wel­come splash of colour.

Signs dis­played across Ash­ford ad­ver­tis­ing trees for sale in Or­bital Park have been painted over with red paint.

Asked about the dam­age to his signs, long-es­tab­lished tree seller Tom Pen­fold sug­gested he had some idea as to who had de­faced them, but re­fused to name any­one.

He said: “You do get it now and again.

“It could be yobs, per­haps it’s some­one who feels if they wreck our signs they’ll dam­age our busi­ness.”

But busi­ness is boom­ing for the Pen­fold fam­ily, which has been sell­ing trees in Ash­ford for about 25 years. It is the ninth Christ­mas the fam­ily has sold trees on Or­bital Park, be­fore that they spent 15 years sell­ing trees in Sev­ing­ton.

Mr Pen­fold said: “Fam­i­lies come back year af­ter year.

“It’s now the chil­dren of our orig­i­nal cus­tomers who come to buy a tree for their own chil­dren, which is lovely to see.”

But de­spite fes­tive cheer from cus- tomers, the Christ­mas tree busi­ness is no stranger to crime.

The Pen­fold fam­ily, which also sells Christ­mas trees in Tun­bridge Wells and Bid­den­den, grows the trees in Sit­ting­bourne, from where they have had trees felled and stolen over the years.

Sev­eral new Christ­mas tree sell­ers have sprung up in the Ash­ford area. The Pen­folds say they are not con­cerned by new sell­ers.

Mr Pen­fold said: “Peo­ple get to know us, get to know the qual­ity and al­ways come back.”

Brian Gil­bert, who died just a week af­ter putting up his Christ­mas lights

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Tom Pen­fold, who sells Christ­mas trees in Or­bital Park, Ash­ford

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One of the signs that has been van­dalised

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