MORE than £46,000 has been raised for St Richard's Hospice thanks to a record-breaking Christmas tree collection campaign. 

Staff coordinated a small army of 166 volunteers who pulled together to round up a mammoth 2,162 unwanted trees for recycling during a meticulously planned two-day operation.

The unwanted trees were registered for donation by people across 13 postcodes in Worcestershire, with no fixed price or donation charged by the hospice, who instead opted to offer residents the chance to give what they wanted. 

In an astounding response of generosity, the average donation came in at a whopping £20, helping to smash the record amount raised in the six years the hospice has been running the collection programme. 

Ria Simons, who is the corporate fundraiser at St Richard's Hospice, said: "This is our sixth year of running the fundraiser and every year it just grows and grows.

"We had the greatest number of volunteers we've ever had this year, but we're so pleased with how smoothly the operation went, and we owe a huge amount of that to the people at Aptean who mapped the route for us free of charge. 

"A large amount of our volunteers have been with us since day one, and if you get it spot on people will continue to come back as it's such an enjoyable campaign to be involved with. 

"There are too many to mention, but we had a huge number of businesses who took part this year.

"A lot of them say how great a team building exercise it is, one of our volunteers even likened it to a treasure hunt!

"The community were absolutely brilliant, even down to the people donating the trees who came to the end of the driveway to cheer our teams on and give them lovely feedback.

"We've had so many emails praising the service, but we couldn't do it without the community.

"There is a lot of love for this campaign."

The hospice must generate millions of pounds each year to continue its work helping patients, family members, and bereaved people across Worcestershire, and Miss Simons has said the money raised provides a welcomed boost at the start of the year.

"It's massively important, we have to raise a huge amount of money each year to continue doing what we do, so this is massive," she added.

"But it isn't just the money, the awareness raised for the hospice throughout the campaign encourages others to learn what we do."

Each of the volunteers was given an individual mapped route and a packed lunch before they set out on their collection rounds. 

Once gathered, the unwanted trees were taken to be recycled by a combination of council and volunteer chippers.

The chippings are now set to be used for construction work by both Churchill Contractors and Platform Housing. 

Several potted trees which were collected are also set to be replanted by the council.

Miss Simons continued: "That's what is so lovely about this campaign, it's so multifaceted, and it's really important for us to be in line with our environmental aims."

In total, St Richard's Hospice raised £46,500 and collected 2,162 trees.