A Bromley mother has shared how she and her family have raised over seven thousand pounds at Christmas.

Gemma, 39, and her partner Oliver, had been collecting, chipping, and recycling Christmas trees over the festive period.

‘Gemma’s TreeMechanics Christmas Tree Chip Up’ is a JustGiving page, where individuals could donate and have their used Christmas trees collected and recycled.

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Gemma says the idea was “inspired by the people” as she has received an immense amount of support from the community, after experiencing a mini stroke and facing a house fire in May 2020.

She says: “We are a friendly, thankful family who want to give back to the community”.

The first bunch of collections were in Christmas 2020, when Gemma and Oliver raised around three and a half thousand pounds.

This year, the couple have doubled last year’s donations, and raised a grand total of £7,045 – with tree collections from over 500 home addresses around the Bromley borough.

Gemma and her family decided to donate to two charities: Bromley Brighter Beginnings and Movember – in honour of loved ones the family has lost to suicide.

Gemma said: “With family support, we decided that it would be nice to raise money for Bromley Brighter Beginnings and Movember this year, as both charities have meant a lot to me and my family.”

“Sadly, I lost my cousin Elliot to suicide back in September and my stepbrother Paul in November by suicide.”

Gemma and Oliver have four children: Jack, 15, Joe, 12, James, 3 and Jessica, 2 – all who have got on board with the tree collections.

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The family sadly experienced a house fire in May 2020, where they lost a large amount of belongings to smoke damage.

Gemma said: “We had to be rehomed and had to go into temporary accommodation, all of our belongings were damaged due to the smoke – this was where Bromley Brighter Beginnings began to help us.

“The local community was so good when they heard about our situation.

“People heard about the fire and came forward to support, without knowing any of us on a personal level.

“Some were dropping off toys and clothes for the children – there was so much help we couldn’t believe it.

“This was where the Christmas tree collection idea originated from.”

Gemma says she prides her business in being an “honest and friendly family run business” that customers can feel “trusted” by.

She added: “A lot of our repeat customers sort of become friends.

“It's nice to have people that phone up and ask how the children are.

“I suppose this initiative is to show people that we are friendly, likeminded people who care about the community.

“We’ve worked closely with Bromley Brighter Beginnings and they’re hoping to do a story on fire safety.”

Gemma told the News Shopper that she experienced a mini stroke at the end of 2019 and lost eyesight in her right eye.

She added: “People supported my family through this difficult time - such as offering to take the children to school and general day to day help.

“This experience was life changing and it is pretty amazing to know we have had support from the community.

“It feels great to give back as much as we can.”

Gemma says that the business has gone “above and beyond” this year and did not expect to raise as much money as they did.

Gemma originally linked the JustGiving pages on social media sites and requested people to donate “any amount” possible.

She explained: “People are in very different situations at the moment, so we didn't specify an amount - it was whatever they wanted to donate.

“After that, people would text me their address and I put a group together for collection dates.”

Gemma says that TreeMechanics had more than 500 home addresses to collect the trees from.

She added: “It took two weeks to collect the tress – our children helped the first week and then I did the second.

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“We drove around following our route planner - grabbing trees from front gardens, and then they would all get chipped through Oliver’s chipping machine.

“The remains of the tress were then donated to allotments or stables to be recycled.”

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Gemma says the selection of Christmas trees in pots had “no need” to be chipped, so were being donated across the community.

She added: “We will be planting one of the tree pots in memory of my cousin, Elliot, who lost his life to suicide as well as my step brother, Paul.

“The scouts have asked for one of the tree pots, as they’re hoping to plant a Christmas Tree and watch it grow.”

When the Christmas period ends, Gemma says life is “back to normal”, as Oliver returns to his job as a standard tree surgeon.

She says the tree collections are predominantly a “Christmas activity” to help support the community and to “give back” to the charities in need.

Gemma added: “The business went absolutely crazy in the first week of January - I was attached to my phone answering people and writing down notes.

“We were out collecting the trees almost every day, including the weekend.”

“I think recycling the trees is very important and current right now – so it is great we can donate the money to charities as well as help save the environment.”

Gemma says her and her family will “definitely” be back next Christmas to continue to collect Christmas trees and raise money for charity.

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She said: “We will be running the donations again next year and hope to raise as much money possible.

“Running the entire business with just two of us became challenging at times, so it would be great to have others involved next year.”

“It would be great to work with similar people who want to support the community.”

You can donate to the JustGiving pages here:

Bromley Brighter Beginningshttps://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/treemechanics