SUNDERLAND’S friendship with a Norwegian city is branching out.
For the past 49 years, Stavanger, in the south west of the country, has donated a cut Christmas tree to the city in recognition of their “historic links”.
Norway sends trees to cities across the UK in honour of the support it was given during the Second World War.
However, this year, instead of a fully-grown fir, Stavanger has handed over a living tree as a “lasting symbol of the friendship between the two cities”.
Yesterday, it was planted by the leader of Stavanger’s Board of Culture, Sissel Knutsen Hegdal, and Sunderland’s mayor Iain Kay.
“Sunderland has a long-standing link with the people of Stavanger,” said Coun Kay.
“The city’s generous gift of a Christmas tree has become a focal point for our annual festive celebrations here in the city.
“And we’re delighted to have been offered a living tree to mark the friendship between the two cities in this the 50th anniversary year of the important link between Sunderland and Stavanger.
“I’m especially pleased that Sissel Knutsen Hegdal, the Leader of Stavanger’s Board of Culture, has agreed to come over to Sunderland to plant the tree.
“I hope it will become a lasting symbol of the friendship between our two cities.”
Mrs Knutsen Hegdal also took part in the Christmas Lights switch-on in the city centre last night.
The new tree was the focal point of the ceremony and serves as a reminder of lasting relations between the two cities.
Once it is fully grown, the tree will take over as the centrepiece of the city’s annual Christmas switch-on event.
Stavanger is situated on the Stavanger Peninsula, in Norway, and is the fourth biggest city in the country.
It is referred to as the “oil capital” of Norway, and is frequently on the list of most expensive citied to visit in the world, having even been named the most expensive in some cases.