A man who was nearly killed by a large tree that fell on his car has now carved out a career carving them into sculptures. Former arborist Gary Orange was driving to work in 2007 to start a gas pipeline construction contract in Plymouth to cut down trees and bushes to clear the land, when a mature sycamore fell on his car.
Trapped inside his car on a country road in Crediton and critically injured, he had to be cut from his Land Rover by firefighters. The accident left Gary with a fractured skull, which required emergency surgery to insert a metal plate.
He spent the next three months in hospital and continuous appointments became the new normal as Gary had to learn to live with his injuries alongside PTSD and fatigue. It was then that, as part of his rehabilitation, Gary went from being an arborist to a tree carver.
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“The tree was a wake-up call and reset my trajectory,” he said. I started out as a hobby carving animals out of wood, then got a job making benches for the Glastonbury Festival.
“From there people started asking me to do stuff for them and it really took off. I found pleasure and healing in tree carving and soon got into competitions and turned it from a hobby into a business.”
Incredibly, Gary also discovered that tree carving was actually in his blood and that his own grandfather had done it too. In an incredible twist of fate, after his accident, Gary met a fellow sculptor who carved animals out of sick trees.
When he told her the story of his accident, he discovered that the man he was talking to had carved the tree that had changed his life. Gary said: “I know from experience that some trees are dangerous and need to be cut down, like the one that fell on me. I will not carve living trees.
“I will only work on fallen or standing dead trees – it is my passion to give new life to dead wood. My carving has taken me across the UK, Pennsylvania in the USA and a beach in New Zealand. I work for the National Trust, Forestry Commission, County Councils, and undertake private work.”
Every February, Gary, 54, of Bradnitch, Devon, also travels to Pennsylvania for the “Ridgeway Rendevous,” the “capital” of the chainsaw carving world. He has now used his skills to transform an ancient horse chestnut tree at Lions Green in Nailsea, which had to be cut down last year after falling ill, into another sculpture.
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The tree, along with another that was knocked down by Storm Eunice, is being turned into a bench sculpture of a lion and her cubs. The city council chose a lion sculpture in a nod to the green it is named after.
A spokesperson for Nailsea Town Council said: ‘We wanted to do something to mark the loss of the tree so we secured money from the Government Returns Fund to turn it into a sculpture reflecting the area The sculpture shows a lion and her cubs.The council will also be planting more trees on the green for its residents to enjoy.
“We can’t wait to see people using the new benches and we’re sure our residents will enjoy it. Gary has been fantastic to work with and we wish him all the best.”
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This is the second sculpture to be carved from a felled tree in Nailsea. The oak tree that had been a feature of the town since the late 1800s in the town square was last year transformed into an animal sculpture by woodcarver Andy O’Neill.
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This notice was published: 2022-03-29 23:00:00