Belfast Telegraph

Eamonn Holmes backs hospital tree to be Northern Ireland's best

By Michael McHugh

TV presenter Eamonn Holmes is backing a Belfast tree - that has a historic connection to the father of medicine - to be named Northern Ireland's finest.

The tree at Belfast City Hospital is a direct descendant of the Plane Tree of Kos - under which Hippocrates first taught in 500BC.

It was planted in Belfast in the Sixties from seeds gifted by Greek physician, Dr Dimitrios Oreopoulos, who was undertaking an MD in kidney research at Queen's.

It has made it to the final of the Woodland Trust's Northern Ireland Tree of the Year competition.

Belfast-born Holmes announced his support for the tree as he paid tribute to the bravery of organ donors in Northern Ireland.

After Holmes broadcast an interview on the subject, Drew Murray, from Antrim, was so moved he donated his kidney to a complete stranger and saved someone's life.

Holmes was then asked by Mr Murray to become a patron of the Northern Ireland Kidney Patients' Association.

The This Morning broadcaster said: "How could I say no? Because what I had to do was really very little by comparison to the example that he showed."

Holmes said that to him the tree represents "brave organ donors, people like Drew, without whom the work would grind to a halt".

"They go out of their way to give others the gift of life, completely selfless, completely amazing," he said.

"They are, simply, our heroes."

The presenter said the tree represented hope, humanity, compassion and growth.

"It represents empathy, science, nature and it also represents the future, and that is very, very important in the field of work that we are talking about," he added.

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