A FORMER Southend man who emigrated to America 16 years ago has donated more than a dozen trees to the borough.

David Abrey, 46, now lives in Kansas but his parents still live in South Avenue, Southend where he grew up.

He is the third generation of the Abrey family from Southchurch.

Fourteen trees have now been planted in the communal front gardens of South Essex Homes properties at Christchurch Court and Nursery Place. Residents were consulted, and welcomed the scheme.

Mr Abrey, who attended Sacred Heart School in Southend, said: “I’ve lived in Kansas City since 1997 with my American wife and two children, but I wanted to give something back to my home town which I visit every year.

“I was inspired to plant trees by the Greek proverb: ‘A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.’

“Hopefully this might encourage others to follow suit too and help the environment in Southend.”

He plans to donate more trees to Southend every year.

Derek Jarvis, Tory councillor responsible for culture an tourism at Southend Council, said: “We are extremely grateful to Mr Abrey for this most kind and welcome gift.

“It is especially generous from someone who lives so far away, and yet is so ready to help enhance our borough for the benefit of all our residents and visitors.

“Mr Abrey has set a wonderful example, and if anyone else would like to donate a tree, shrub or bench in Southend, we would love to hear from them.”

If anyone wants to donate trees, they can contact the council on 01702 215000 or www.southend.gov.uk/donateatree