The Olympic city of Lillehammer donates giant Christmas tree to the children of London

The ten-metre high tree was a gesture of solidarity from Lillehammer which hosted the 1994 Winter Olympic Games, to London 2012 Games organisers and host city communities for the 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.

The Christmas tree was transported on a ferry and in a truck from Norway to St. Paul’s School in Tower Hamlets which accepted the gift on behalf of the schools and communities of London and the Lower Lea Valley, site for the new Olympic Park and centrepiece for the 2012 Games.

Jason Gardener, Olympic gold medallist, presented the tree to the school on 15 December. “Look upon this tree from Lillehammer as a sign of friendship, and as a strong wish that you in London will succeed in your efforts to create successful Olympic Games and Paralympic Games in 2012,” Mayor of Lillehammer Synnøve Brenden Klemetrud, said in a letter that accompanied the tree, which was addressed to London 2012 Chairman Sebastian Coe.

"The Olympic rings are important symbols, and the ideals of the international Olympic movement focus on cooperation, peace and understanding between different nations and people," the Mayor said in the letter.

The children attached special Christmas wish / hope decorations to the tree and staged a lighting ceremony to celebrate the arrival of the tree at the school, which is located close to the Olympic Park site where several of the key venues for the 2012 Games will be built, including the Olympic Village and Olympic Stadium. The tree will be taken down in early January and the biodegradable shreddings will be donated to Mudchute Park & Farm in East London.

Sebastian Coe said “I’d like to thank the Mayor of Lillehammer for this wonderful gift. The Lillehammer Games were memorable and we look forward to welcoming the people of Norway to London as we welcome the world to London in 2012.”

Headmaster of St. Paul’s school, Terry Bennett, commented: “We are delighted to accept the tree on behalf of Sebastian Coe and London 2012. The children are very excited about the Games coming to London in 2012 anyway, and this very generous gift from Lillehammer has increased their interest and excitement as they look forward to 2012.”

Jason Gardener with children from the St. Paul’s School in Tower Hamlets during the Lillehammer Christmas tree ceremony on 15 December. Photo: LOCOG

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