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Josephine Hedger grabs sixth European Tree Climbing Championship

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SWAY arborist Josephine Hedger has won the female European Tree Climbing Championship in Belgium – her sixth European crown.

Hedger, who grew up in Highcliffe, has now won the title for a fifth consecutive year.

An individual competition in which each climber completes five preliminary events, entrants are judged on speed, skill and technique.

European Tree Climbing Championship winner Jo Hedger
European Tree Climbing Championship winner Jo Hedger

The accumulation of points then puts the top women and men into a masters climb on the second day. This event allows the climbers to demonstrate how they read the tree and move around the canopy to get the marked targets within a specific timeframe, with the climber with the highest score winning.

There is also a separate event in which competitors compete in a head-to-head fastest vertical ascent to 15m.

Hedger said her highlight of the competition was “completing all of the preliminary points without making too many mistakes” – which allowed her the opportunity to climb in the masters – and “winning the championship with a long-time friend, Johan Pihl”, with whom she has climbed for 15 years.

The competition simulates the working conditions of arborists in the field. She is now looking forward to the challenge of the Tree Climbing World Championships in September in the Netherlands, where she will be looking to lift the world crown once again.

Hedger owns Arbor Venture Tree Care Ltd, based in Sway.

On getting into competitive tree climbing, the four-time world champion said: “I had been working as an arborist for three years and thought I would go along with some friends I knew who were going. I didn’t do well but was inspired to learn and practice to compete.”

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