Long Service Awards are being presented this year to foresters whose dedication and skills have ensured thriving woodlands and forests now and for the future. Together they have accumulated more than 240 years of foresty wisdom:
Peter Archer, Raby Estate
Roger Fitter MBE, Hascombe Estate
Malcolm Whittle, Ford and Etal Estates
Nick Baimbridge, Belnheim Palace Estates
John Docherty, Ford and Etal Estates
Hywel Gethin Evans, Lydney Park
Stephen Fairnington, Ford and Etal Estates
More details below
Three great foresters have been recognised for their work with the Ford & Etal Estates' Forestry department in Northumberland. They received their RFS Long Service Awards presented by the Duke of Roxburghe at a Border Union Agricultural Society event at Kelso.
- John Docherty, 36 years of service
Receiving RFS Long Service Awards, from left: Stephen Fairnington, Malcolm Whittle, and John Docherty from the Ford and Etal Estates. Picture copyright Hector Innes Photography
- Stephen Fairnington, 32 years of service
- Malcolm Whittle, 41 years of service
- Ford and Etal Estates, Northumberland
On the Ford and Etal Estates, around 650 hectares is given over to commercial forestry and amenity woodland.The forestry department is responsible for the planting, thinning and felling of trees and the maintenance of fences, gates and stiles around the estate.
- Hywel Gethin Evans
Hywel Gethin Evans, left, receives his RFS LSA from Viscount Bledisloe
- Lydney Park
- 38 years
Born in Carmarthenshire, Gethin had started his career in the army with the Royal Engineers. With his engineering background, Gethin was drawn towards operating forest tractors and machinery early in his career on the Estate. With Crawler Bulldozers, County Tractors, and now his Valtra, Gethin has hauled or winched out almost every piece of timber felled on the Estate in the last 38 years, and is a highly skilled operator of timber cranes. He remains an active and highly valued member of the Forestry Team and can be found daily "Tidying Up" after the chainsaw cutters.
Viscount Bledisloe presented the award during a visit by the RFS Gloucestershire Division to Lydney Park. He also gave a personal tribute to Gethin on behalf of both himself and his late father, the 3rd Viscount, thanking him for his service and efforts on the estate. This was echoed by the words of appreciation of current Head Forester, Chris Waskett.
In keeping with his industrious nature, Gethin spent most of his special day, driving the visitors round on their tour of the extensive woodlands
|Roger Fitter, left, receives his award at an RFS South Eastern Division event|
Roger has spent 44 years managing Hascombe Estate woodlands and has put a huge amount of effort in to restocking the woodland after it was windblown in 1987. He has also been actively encouraging the chestnut coppice industry in terms of traditional management and also for biomass
His career began after leaving school in August 1952 working for the Woodland Management Association. After National Service in the RAF and time spent working for the newly formed Wealden Woodlands he went to the Forestry Commission Forestry School in the Forest of Dean where he obtained a Foresters Certificate. Roger returned to Wealden Woodlands, which later became English Woodlands, as an Area Manager and later a Director, managing many woodland estates in West Sussex, including the Barlavington Estate owned by Sir Ian Anstruther.
When Sir Ian purchased the Hascombe Estate in 1972, Roger was asked to manage it. The first job was to improve the internal access, bulldozing a number of new rides to allow a major thinning programme to begin.
The storm in 1987 caused major damage which took nearly three years to clear up. There followed several years of restocking, which has just been thinned for the first time.
Roger officially retired in 1996, but continued to act as a forestry consultant for English Woodlands and for a short time for Tilhill who took over English Woodland's forestry business. Since 2010 he has been an independent consultant, still managing many of the woodlands he looked after in the English Woodlands days, including Hascombe where he organises all the forestry operations and helps out from time to time with a bit of manual labour.
Roger says: " Although I am now 81 years old, I have no intention of retiring as I get enormous pleasure from what I do, having many clients who seem to appreciate my efforts."
- Peter Archer
Peter Archer, right, receives his award at the Great Yorkshire Show from David Carter, chairman of the RFS Yorkshire Division. Picture: Yorkshire Agricutlural Society
- Raby Estate, County Durham
- 40 years
Peter, who lives on the Raby Estate, Staindrop, County Durham, first went to Raby on a work experience scheme in 1976. A year later, when he left school, he was taken on as a trainee woodman, progressing to working a supervisor. These days an increasing amount of his time is spent working in the Estate’s developing firewood business which produces and delivers hardwood and softwood logs from timber harvested from the Estate's plantations.
The Estate, owned by Lord Barnard’s family since 1629, has a long history of active forest management. The woodlands cover an extensive area in Teesdale, with a diverse mixture of broadleaf and coniferous plantations.
The Raby Estate is proud of its production of high quality timber, conservation and maintenance of the landscape which are all key aspects in the day to day working in the woodlands. In recent years the Estate receiving RFS and RASE silviculture awards and 2nd place in the RFS Duke of Cornwall Award.
Lord Barnard of Raby Estates says: " Peter has worked loyally for the Estate for the past 40 years over which he has seen considerable change in the forest industry and working practices on the Estate. During this time he has developed his skills as a woodman, taking on an increasing range of tasks in the Estate’s forestry business."
The magnificent woodlands and parkland around the Blenheim Palace estate have been created over hundreds of years, and, during CountryfileLive, the RFS presented a Long Service Award to forestry foreman Nick Baimbridge whose work over the past 30 years means visitors for many more generations will be able to enjoy the landscape.
Above: From left: Charlotte Smith, John Craven ,RFS President Sophie Churchill OBE, Nick Baimbridge, and His Grace, the Duke of Marlborough.
Below, waiting to go in to the green room, from left: His Grace the Duke of Marlborough, RFS Oxon and Bucks Div Chairman Nick Mottram, John Craven, Nick Baimbridge, Sophie Churchill and RFS Oxon and Bucks Secretary Tim Shardlow
The presentation was made to a packed audience in the National Trust Theatre, with BBC presenter John Craven talking to Nick Baimbridge and His Grace The Duke of Marlborough praising Nick as the "quintessential carer" of the estate's woodlands and landscape.
Nick started work at Blenheim Palace at the age of 16 as a student and is now the forestry foreman leading a team of four. Everyone who visits Blenheim Palace Estate benefits from his hard work within the park which is both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the renowned Capability Brown's finest landscapes.
Nick and his team look after over 2,000 acres of woods at the Palace which is visited by 900,000 people a year. Under his care is one of Europe’s most important SSSI veteran oak woodlands. Some of the trees in those woodlands, including the mighty ‘King Oak’ date back over 1,000 years. Alongside the woodland and parkland management Nick’s team also grow and sell over 1,500 Christmas trees on the estate each year.
The Royal Forestry, through its Future Foresters programme, is actively encouraging more people to consider forestry as a career. RFS President Sophie Churchill who presented the award to Nick says: "Everyone who comes here sees and wonders at the landscape, but it is the unseen work of people like Nick and his team that make it possible and viable. The knowledge and skills which Nick has built up over the years are invaluable and the evidence of his great work is something we can all enjoy.
"Forestry needs people like Nick and many others to ensure that our woodlands remain resilient and flourish into the future. Most foresters will also agree, that this is one of the most enjoyable, and rewarding careers you can opt for."
John Hoy, Chief Executive of Blenheim Palace, said: “Nick has been a wonderful asset for the Estate since he first started here on a 2-year YTS Forestry Scheme back in 1986. It was a very easy decision to offer him a full time role and he has been an integral part of the forestry team since that time. Nick has proven to be a wonderful role model for his profession and he has given fantastic service to the Estate across the last three decades. It is vital that the woodlands across the estate are managed with care – not least because of the world heritage status and the Capability Brown influences – and Nick and his colleagues have overseen that work and will continue to do into the future. We are very proud of Nick’s long service here at Blenheim Palace and we thank him for his huge contribution to the Estate.”
Looking back over his 30 years Nick says: “The reason I took up forestry was that I was an outdoor lad, interested in nature and I didn't want to be stuck inside working in an office. What I enjoy the most is the variety of work we do - never enough time to get bored but the proudest moment that sticks out is being involved in the One Oak project starting in 2012, which at the time was the most studied oak tree in Britain. I would encourage people to take up forestry, it is a great way of life and woodlands always need managing.