A family who were assured a 40ft tree was safe and would not fall down were terrified when days later it crashed down and missed their home by inches.

Cliff Rumsey called out a horticulturalist twice as he was worried one of the four cypress conifer trees in the garden of his home in Gostling Road, Whitton, may not survive the recent high winds.

The father-of-four was assured on both visits that the tree was safe, so wrongly assured two of his children, aged 10 and 14, who were staying for the weekend it would be all right.

He said: “They sent a professional who said ‘this thing will never, never come down in a million years’. It bloody well did.

“My shed has gone. My fence is gone. It’s like Narnia when you open the door. It is huge devastation.

“We were at home. My kids were crying and went to bed. I kept saying to them it would be fine as we had been told it wouldn’t come down.”

Mr Rumsey said he felt extremely lucky to have avoided damage to his home but said he was angry about the advice he received.

He said: “I woke up the next morning and I was like ‘what the hell’. We just looked at each other and thought how did we all get through safe?

“It came down in pretty much the safest place it could have. If it had been slightly the other way my kitchen would have gone.

“If my kids had been out there playing on Saturday and it fell a few hours earlier they would have been killed.”

A Richmond Housing Partnership (RHP) spokesman said the horticulturist looked at the tree on February 12, and said there were no pathogens or fungus that would indicate poor health.

The horticulture contractor inspected the tree again after it fell down on February 15, and said it was likely to have blown over due to the saturated ground and high winds.

He said: “The fallen cypress seems to have fallen due to wind throw, there was no evidence of any pathogens or decay, no mechanical damage present and the tree seemed healthy.

“The ground being saturated has meant the roots do not have as much grip on the ground they are in, cypress being an evergreen tree means that the sail area is constant through the winter.

“Without the ground being saturated and the high winds the tree would have been unlikely to fall over.”

Mr Rumsey said he has been left with the fallen tree in his garden.

He said: “It’s not a coincidence that nothing else in my area fell down.

“I am just asking for help as luckily no one got killed, no one got hurt but they can’t just leave me with the tree now surely.”