Jude does give a fig
WHEN Jude McCormack was a little bit younger, the large fig tree in the grounds of Alstonville Public School was "safe".
That's because, in the popular children's game of tips, kids touched the tree so they couldn't be tagged - and not be "in".
But now aged 11 and in Year 6, Jude has put his hand up to be "in" and he wants to help the tree be "safe" from the tree-loppers.
After news broke last week that the NSW Department of Education is planning on removing the 115-year-old tree, Jude began a petition to save the small-leafed fig. He handed it in this week.
Even though the department has said an "independent arborist" has reported the tree is dying naturally and there is no hope of saving it, Jude said the dear old tree "deserves to be given a chance to be cared for".
And 238 people - mostly students of the school, making up about half the school's population - agreed with him.
"We could use the money to be spent on chopping the tree down to help the tree get better," he said.
"It has been here for over 100 years.
"We want the school and the Department of Education to try to save our fig tree by bringing it back to health so children of the future can enjoy it, too."
He said he would like to see some remediation work done for the tree, "not just one person come in and say it's sick".
Previously, a department spokesperson said - and parents who launched a campaign to save the tree agreed - that student safety at the school was the top priority.
Jude also agrees, but he just wants to give the tree a chance.
Author Foreman Crawford, in his book Duck Creek Mountain Now Alstonville, writes the small-leafed fig was gifted to the school by pioneer Charles Bulwinkel and planted in the late 1890s. It is believed it was planted after the original school was destroyed by fire in 1895.