How my love of trees was born

NPTC/City and Guilds Certification

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When we are young, we are bombarded with different options, career paths and important life changing decisions that have to be made. In retrospect, I can see that the activities in the first part of my life led me to finding my career. My father decided to begin to plant 1800 hardwood whips on his small holding of 8 acres when I was 5 years old. I have fond memories helping my father plant these trees over a three year period. Those trees gave me a world of freedom in which to develop and I could mark the passing of time in their growth.

At 12 years old I used to help out on a farm next door. A regular winter task was to go into the woods and make logs for the firewood business. Our wood eventually provided us with winter fuel too. Logs were split and set aside for Winter. I learned the basics of forrestry with my father.

As school became more demanding, I spent less time outdoors. I passed my GCSE’s and attended a sixth form college which was pretty unsuccessful, I think, due to my lack of interest in the generic subjects I had chosen. I did, like many other young people, drift through a variety of careers until when I found Arboriculture in the late 1990’s.

This was a turning point in my life. It was amazing that I could get paid to climb trees all day! Work days would fly by: not once did I feel the need to take a day off work, whatever the weather! I knew then I had found my vocation in life.

I became certificated to use a chainsaw on the ground and aerially. After I had mastered the basics and grew proficient in the practical side of Arboriculture, I yearned for more. I took the NPTC Assessor’s route, passed and started training and assessing beginners in the industry. I found that training people in the various disciplines was extremely rewarding. To see someone grow with the basic knowledge you have given them and with the same enthusiasm, gave me great job satisfaction.

Moving to London the challenges were different again. The executing of tree works in confined spaces with multiple targets, working on a bonus system where efficiency and productivity are a driving force but health and safety and good arboricultural practice is paramount, was challenging. It was during my first year in London that I completed an RFS Certificate in Arboriculture.

After two years climbing for a leading London Arboricultural local authority contractor, I was offered a contract managing role. I embraced the new challenges this job presented me. It was not, as previously, immediately obvious, at the end of each day, what had been achieved. The satisfaction of overseeing a contract worth half a million pounds and the respect I gained, gave me a different kind of job satisfaction. Further promotion lead to me running multiple contracts.

The company I worked for gained UCAS approved quality assurance accreditation for ISO 9001, 14001 and 18001 in 2012. This was the first combined management system of its kind in the industry and all the managers in the company played a big part in reaching the high standards required.

With a 95% pass rate, I have trained over 150 members of staff for relevant NPTC Level 2 Arboricultural vocational certificates. Whilst in this management role, my IT skills have improved, so that now I am proficient in most of the programmes in the Microsoft office suite. This I now find essential in order to process, organise and dispatch my current work load. By creating an online spread sheet for our London based out-of-hours arboricultural emergency service; I have enabled all on-call managers to contact the available staff and record information centrally whilst roaming.

Now I run 3 local authority contracts with a combined value close to £1 million. I am responsible for 12 full time staff. This can grow up to 20 staff on any given day dependant on the contract being worked. One of the contracts is a local authority housing contract. This housing group rely upon our company for consultancy and recommendations on tree related problems. I find the research into these enquiries very interesting especially when the problem isn’t common.

After 4 years of being a contract manager, I want a new challenge. I want something that extends my mind; building my knowledge and experience in arboriculture. My love of working with trees makes me want to extend my ability to understand the science involved in working with them in greater depth; with the pathogens in nature that affect their health. My aim is to become a consultant in this industry and I believe I am able to reach this goal.