Volunteers young and old came together yesterday to plant the first saplings of a new community orchard.

The orchard, in the idyllic grounds of the Chorleywood House Estate, will offer future generations a venue in which to relax, reflect play and learn.

Positioned next to the lawn cemetery, it will eventually play host to 107 apple, plum, pear and cherry trees – the first 24 of which were planted yesterday.

Alison Rubens, chairman of the Chorleywood Community Orchard, thanked land owners Three Rivers District Council and the Friends of Chorleywood House Estate for their support in getting the project off the ground.

She added: “We had this idea about one year ago. There was all this beautiful open space that wasn’t being used.

“We never thought it would prove this successful, but the level of public support has been fantastic all the way through.

“We wanted to build something for future generations to enjoy. I think people were keen to leave something behind for their children.”

The cost of the trees, all locally grown varieties including Lane's Prince Albert, Brownlees' Russet and Ellison's Orange, has been met by sponsorship from local residents.

Mrs Rubens, who was joined on the day by more than thirty shovel wielding volunteers with the planting, said that many of the trees purchased so far had been bought in memory of dead relatives and friends.

Sponsors’ names will be recorded in the village library – where they will still be available in ten to fifteen years’ time when the orchard is approaching maturity.

Pensioner Les Dacre reflected the views of the more than 30 residents who turned up to help.

He said: “It will be many years before these trees are fully grown but this is a great example of people taking an interest in their community. It is this kind of event which makes Chorleywood such a worthwhile place to live.”

The orchard will also play host to a new annual community Apple Day; a celebration of all things apple related to be held on October 17.