Staff at a garden centre battled flooding and rain to make sure that Christmas trees were delivered to a church in time for its festival.

Torrential rain and flooding hit Bridport and west Dorset last Monday. One of the worst hit places was Groves Nursery and Garden Centre in Bridport. Parts of the centre were under three feet of water when the River Brit burst its banks.

This includes the area that was being used to store the 37 Christmas trees for the Bridport United Church's charity Christmas Tree Festival - which sees charities decorating a tree to be displayed in the church alongside a collection box.

In fact, the festival's grand opening by the mayor was scheduled to start the next day, Tuesday, December 5, and not only were the trees undecorated, but they needed to be totally re-potted.

Staff at Groves toiled for hours re-potting the plants in the soaking rain. The delivery, which was supposed to be done at 8am, was finally completed by 3pm, leaving volunteers at the church just enough time to decorate in time for the grand opening.

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: Staff at the Groves worked through the rain to repot the Christmas trees in timeStaff at the Groves worked through the rain to repot the Christmas trees in time (Image: The Groves Nursery)

Christmas Tree Festival committee member John Darwood said: "We quickly phoned the 37 charities who expected to come and decorate their trees in the afternoon, to advise them there were no trees to decorate but we hoped to have some the following day.

"Our team who had been waiting to erect and put lighting on all the trees turned their hand to decorating our treeless Church and before dispersing home we had a quick meeting to pray.

"Within half an hour, Charlie Groves the manager and owner, burst through our church doors in his wellingtons and trench coat, clearly soaked through, and profusely apologised.

"Against all the odds, we had some trees delivered at 1.30pm and the remainder - the six biggest - an hour later.

"To sum up, what looked absolutely impossible was, thanks to divine intervention, overcome and we sincerely thank Charlie Groves and his team who prevented what might otherwise might have been a disaster.

"An early Christmas miracle at our Christmas Tree Festival."

Charlie Groves said: "We usually supply the trees for the festival. Unfortunately because it was so flooded up we had a bit of a panic. We kind of had to pull the stops and regroup.

"We got a team of eight of us all together and got to repotting all the Christmas trees. Mum was even there helping, she was keen to see it done.

"It (the festival) is quite a big event for the town and we just felt we had a responsibility to deliver even if it is a bit delayed."

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: Decorated Christmas Trees at the festivalDecorated Christmas Trees at the festival (Image: Bridport United Church)

Rev Jane Wilson said: "We were panicking a little but they (Groves) really did us proud."

The Christmas Tree Festival is open every day until Sunday, December 17, 11am to 4pm in Bridport United Church on East Street.