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Oak marks 80th anniversary of founding of Macdonnell Gardens, Leavesden
Residents of garden homes for disabled ex-servicemen gathered in the last dose of autumn sunshine to plant an oak tree to mark their homes' 80th anniversary.
Macdonnell Gardens in Leavesden is a set of 12 bungalows founded by Annie Macdonnell in 1931 with the aim to provide accommodation for disabled ex-servicemen and their families.
The oak tree marked the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and Anne Relf, has lived at Macdonnell Gardens for two years cared and nurtured the plant since February until it was planted on Tuesday (October 31).
The tree was a replacement of one planted by Prince George - the Queen's uncle - back in 1933 in the Macdonnell Memorial Garden, and which was removed in 1991.
Mrs Relf’s husband Brian served in the RAF as squadron leader in the Cold War, Falklands and Northern Ireland from 1960 up until 1997 when he retired.
She said: "When I was caring for the plant at home, I used to kiss it every morning.
"Now it is outside, I will still come out and kiss it every morning.
"I am so lucky to live here and it is our little sanctuary in the middle of a busy world.
"It was such a great day and I am so pleased at the turnout. The sunshine is also out for our day. "
The bungalows were built in 1932 and 1933 on two acres of donated land, with funds raised by Mrs Macdonnell, the widow of an Honorary Colonel in the Army Pay Department.
The first six bungalows were officially opened on October 30, 1932, by Lord Knutsford and dedicated the same day by the Right Reverend Bishop Lander.
Mr and Mrs Relf, who originally lived in Sussex, have been married for 48 years and have fondly nicknamed Quercus Robur plant "Quirky".
Brian Relf, who developed severe breathing disabilities due to pollutants in the air during his time serving, said it was an "absolutely wonderful day".
Mr Relf said: "It was a successful day and what a great day to mark the diamond jubilee along with replacing the oak tree originally planted by Prince George back in 1933."
Macdonnell Gardens, now run by Haig Housing Trust, gained conservation status in January by Watford Borough Council and the oak tree was purchased with help from the Woodland Trust.
Residents from Mcdonnell Gardens collectively came together to raise the money towards the oak tree project and putting up a commemorative plaque to mark the day and in tribute to the Queen.
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