GIFTED sculptor Simon O’Rourke has turned his hand to a new project.

The tree surgeon from Rhosddu, Wrexham, has been commissioned to carve the remains of the tallest tree in the UK into a wooden wonder.

The 209-ft tall Douglas Fir tree at Lake Vyrnwy, Powys, was felled for safety reasons when it was battered by storms.

But creative Simon saw an opportunity to strike.

He said: “An episode of Countryfile featured this beautiful tree which had sadly had to be felled.

“The Forestry Commission decided to leave 50ft of timber standing and commission an artist to turn the remaining stump into a sculpture.

“I wasted no time in finding out the right person to contact and managed to get my name on their list of artists.”

Simon, 33, was one of eight artists to tender for the job but it was his visionary sketch designs that earned him the commission.

“The tree was integral to the Giants Of Vyrnwy trail, so my design took the giants theme and consisted of a giant hand,” he said.

“The hand is trying to do what the tree was doing in the first place and reach for the sky.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for me and a real honour to carve such a special tree.

“If treated properly it will last up to 40 years which is a nice thought.”

The 124-year-old tree was given the chop when it was found to be leaning to one side following storms in March.

But it is not the first tall order for Simon.

Last year he unveiled a seven foot solid oak carving of Cheshire Jets captain, James Hamilton, as a homage to the longest serving player.

And in February he auctioned off a five foot tall ‘bobble-head’ carving of singer Gary Barlow to raise money for Comic Relief.

Simon has a degree in illustration but on graduating from the then North East Wales Institute, Wrexham, he found there were very few jobs so became a tree surgeon.

Although he enjoyed his work he longed to make use of his artistic skill and was delighted when he came up with a way to combine his two loves.

Simon, who has also illustrated for children’s books and created murals for Wrexham schools such as Rhosddu Primary, has found massive success with his business and has toured the globe to enter carving competitions in Japan, Holland, Germany and America.

A highlight came when he won third place at the English Open Chainsaw Competition, an international event at Sandringham where he competed against 50 other contestants from around the world.

He is being helped on the project in Powys by best pal and fellow artist Nathan Woodcock, 32.

The week-long project is expected to be completed on Friday.