Forestry Education and Learning Projects

Bill Hogarth Memorial Trust 2016

Established in 2001 to commemorate and carry on the work of Bill Hogarth, this Apprenticeship Trust aims to increase the number of trained coppice workers and promote the management of coppiced woodland.

The Bill Hogarth Memorial Trust is owned by the Trustees and managed by Ms. Kath Morgan

Winners of Gold Award: Excellence in Forestry 2016

The Project

The Bill Hogarth (MBE) Memorial Apprenticeship Trust (BHMAT) was established in 2001 to commemorate and carry on the work of Bill Hogarth, a Cumbrian coppice merchant. Mr Hogarth was involved in the training and support of many coppice workers in the North West, and when he died in 1999, the Trust was established with two aims:

  1. The setting up and running of an apprenticeship scheme in coppice skills, increasing the number of trained coppice workers.
  2. Promotion of management of broadleaved woodland using environmentally sustainable methods which encourage biodiversity, thereby increasing the area of coppiced woodland.

The two aims are neatly symbiotic; coppice workers need suitable woodland with appropriate species for coppicing, and coppiced woodland needs coppice workers!

The Apprentices

The trust takes on 2-3 apprentices each year for a three-year training programme. Each apprentice is based on an established coppice business and receives specialist training in all aspects of the coppice industry. Assessment is based on practical skills and a percentage of written coursework. Successful apprentices are awarded the Bill Hogarth Coppice Diploma and are fully equipped at the end of three years to set up their own coppice business.

Would-be participants must attend a ‘Woodland Pioneers’ course, a week-long introduction to coppicing. If this fails to dent their enthusiasm, the Trust seek to match apprentices with a sponsor – someone working in the industry who has the time and skills necessary to induct an apprentice in the skills they will require.

Some of these skills are common to all coppice workers: safe working, woodland management, first aid, business, teaching and demonstration, but beyond these, apprentices are exposed to the various value-adding crafts and skills within the wider coppicing sector. These include charcoal production, hazel hurdles, oak swill baskets and cleft oak fencing.

In their second year, apprentices and sponsors continue to work together, but apprentices should have a good idea of the direction they want to take post-BHMAT. With support from the Trust and their sponsor, each apprentice is encouraged to set up on their own in their third and final year.

The relationship between apprentice and sponsor is crucial to the success of the project, and a three-month probation period is mandated to ensure a good fit before the three-year programme gets underway. Each apprentice is further supported by a mentor – someone who sits outside the day-to-day relationship and can offer guidance or intervention should difficulties arise.

As well as learning their trade by working with their sponsor, apprentices are encouraged to attend educational courses and expose themselves to as many aspects of their trade as possible. The cost of this training is met by BHMAT.

Coppice Diploma

The Trust’s programme was validated and offered through a local college, but this introduced an age cap that precluded some applicants and was not financially or administratively effective.

Instead, BHMAT has developed its own Coppice Diploma the three-year apprenticeship currently offered involves formal assessment, reflective self-assessment and the production of a workbook detailing students’ progress through the scheme. Successful apprentices are awarded the Bill Hogarth Coppice Diploma, whose value is widely recognised by those who have any interest in coppicing in the North of England.

Building on the success of the training programme, BHMAT has now entered into a partnership with Small Woods so that the Coppice Diploma can be delivered and awarded as part of a National Coppice Apprenticeship Scheme.


The administration of the BHMAT is carried out by its Trustees and is broadly divided between the running of the scheme and the securing of sufficient funds necessary to do so. The running involves finding suitable sponsors with access to suitable woodland, publicising and running the ‘Woodland Pioneers’ course each autumn and matching and supporting apprentices with sponsors. As participants finish their training and establish their own business, they may, in due course, take on an apprentice of their own, which reflects the sustainability at the heart of the Trust.

Securing funds to maintain and develop the Trust involves a lot of time preparing funding applications to various environmental and educational organisations. However, through a great deal of hard work and dedication from all involved with BHMAT, each September, a new group of apprenticeships has been able to embark on a supported, valued, unique journey towards a life working in the woods.


EmployabilityInnovation and the vital link to employability were noted by the judges of the 2016 Excellence in Forestry Awards. They commented, “the use of a well-structured apprenticeship with support from established mentors and sponsors is an excellent model for how learning really works, leading to highly qualified work-ready ‘graduates’ able to respond to the challenges of the marketplace.”

And apprentices have also commented favourably, demonstrating the impact and value of the Trust’s work:

“I feel privileged to be part of the BHMAT Apprenticeship …

“My objective is to find and develop more coppiced woodland in my local area, and establish my business to include Forest School, educational work, coppicing, charcoal and provide opportunities for people to understand and explore their woodlands.”


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Author: Mike Page

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