An intruder was caught on camera hacking down a 60ft high tree in the grounds of Wakefield Hospice.

Patients and staff were left shocked by the “reckless” incident which happened earlier this month. 

An investigation has been launched and hospice leaders have appealed for information to catch the culprit.

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Details of the criminal damage to the 30-year-old lime tree have been revealed in a letter delivered to residents living near to the hospice on Aberford Road.

Janet Millard, director of clinical services, said: “Just after many of our patients had finished their supper or received their evening medication, a person (as caught on CCTV) chose to trespass in the hospice grounds and hack down one of our hospice trees.

“A tree that has stood for over 30 years, a tree that metaphorically symbolises the growth of Wakefield Hospice, cut down with complete disregard for the potential damage it could cause.

“Not to mention the real danger such an act could have on the safety of patients, visitors and staff who have access to our gardens at all hours, day and night.

“Wakefield Hospice provides a peaceful, safe setting in which the highest quality of care is offered to patients in their time of need.

Forestry Journal:

“We are incredibly saddened and angered by the disrespectful and illegal actions that this individual chose to undertake.

Anyone with information is being asked to get in touch with the hospice by e-mail, phone or in person. The incident occurred on Friday, February 2. 

Ms Millard added: “We are so fortunate that the felled tree did not land on the hospice itself or injure anyone – scenarios which are too terrible to think about (and scenarios which likely did not cross the mind of the individual who carried out this reckless act.”

An appeal has also been made for help dispose of the tree.

Ms Millard added: “We are not sending this letter in a bid to raise funds.

“We are simply reaching out to you – our community, our neighbours, our friends – to ask for your continued support, your kindness and your neighbourly spirit to shine brightly in this saddening act.

“We are here for our community, and it inspires us every single day when we know that our community are here for us too.”

Hospice chief executive Tina Turner said residents had sent messages of support after being told of the incident.

She said:  “As stated in our letter to local residents, we are not just Wakefield Hospice – we are Wakefield’s Hospice – supported by our community and here to support our community with the highest level of care and compassion.

“We truly hope and believe this will be an isolated incident and we would once again like to thank all those people who have kindly shared messages of support with us over the past 24 hours, and reaffirm our commitment to making patient, staff and visitor safety an absolute priority.”

West Yorkshire Police told the BBC that CCTV had been reviewed and inquiries were ongoing.