This Christmas tree was a loving gift from a Second World War airman to his new-born daughter 84 years ago.

And Frances Allison still dusts down its branches every Christmas.

It was bought from a Woolworth’s store for one shilling (5p) – and Frances still uses it to decorate her bungalow home in Dittisham where it is proudly displayed every year.

In 1940 her young father Jack Taylor was about to join the RAF having been called up to serve, and he was looking for a present for his new-born daughter, who was just a few months old.

The tree was the perfect solution and it brightened up Christmas for her and her mother Marian.

Frances recalls: “I remember the wartime bombing in Bradford and you could see things that had been demolished although I don’t think anywhere was hit nearby apart from a reservoir.

“I remember that because when I came along we were given a corporation house which was only given to families.”

At the end of the war Jack, still in the RAF, was sent over to Europe. While on a train in Belgium he gave all the food he had to a starving family - and in return they insisted on giving him a small package.

When he opened it he found a nativity set wrapped in straw.

Back in the UK he gave the gift to his daughter. Every year since the nativity has been placed in front of the Christmas tree base.

However, this was not the end of the story! A few years after the end of the war a pack of Belgian chocolates arrived at the Taylor’s home in Bradford.

The family on the train had tracked down Jack. Belgian chocolates arrived at Christmas for a few years, sadly contact was lost when the Taylor family moved to Hull and paperwork did not survive.

In 1986, Jack, by then a grandad, died, but the tree and nativity set survive and will be passed down the generations so he will not be forgotten.

Frances married Roy who was a Methodist minister, and the couple moved homes often - sometimes living in some very down-at-heel places, as Frances recalls.

The Christmas tree followed Francis around eight places including Manchester, where the couple lived in a caravan, Salford, Plymouth, London, Bristol and Dittisham where Francis now lives.

Frances remembers: “Christmas Day was a working day because of Roy. We had our Christmas Dinner with everyone else and I helped to cook the meal for around 30 people.

“The meal was followed by activities and an afternoon tea. Now my doctor son Tim is married to a Methodist minister Liz so it’s come full circle.”

Her other son Paul works in the United States.

Frances added: “My husband worked very long hours from morning till night but he was always home for supper with the boys.

“Even in church retirement he was a Governor at Torbay Hospital, was the Chairman of a national charity for the elderly and helped to advise Totnes Town Council.”

Is Frances’s tree the oldest in the South Hams?