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A cut above

Northumberland forestry worker Keith Bickerton has become the first person to receive a Royal Forestry Society Long Service Award in 2022.

By Wendy Necar · February 28, 2022

Pictured: Keith Bickerton receives his award from Lord Joicey. The presentation was made at the biennial Border Union Agricultural Society Long Service Awards lunch. Picture courtesy of BUAS

Keith, 52, is the third generation of his family to have worked on the Ford and Etal Estate in Northumberland.

Lord Joicey, whose family have owned Ford & Etal Estates for over 100 years, paid tribute.

“It is a rare thing, and a true privilege, when an employee achieves over 30 years of excellent service to an estate. In Keith’s case, it is made more special by the fact that both his father, Derek ,and his late uncle Ivor were also awarded Long Service certificates for their many years’ work on the estate’s farms.

“His grandfather Bob Bickerton served many years as the estate hedge-layer. The family’s wider contribution to the community in this small corner of North Northumberland is truly outstanding.”

“Keith is a highly skilled chainsaw operator who has also been a wonderful tutor and mentor to younger members of the team.  There probably isn’t a compartment of forestry in which he hasn’t worked.”

The Ford & Etal estate includes 700 ha of mixed conifer and broadleaf woodland – some of which has won Royal Forestry Society Excellence in Forestry Awards.

Robert Nevins, Head of Forestry at Ford & Etal added: “Over the last 30 years Keith has developed into one of the most important employees we have, showing himself to be a highly skilled chainsaw operator and a multi skilled Estate worker who is capable of stepping into many roles.

“He is highly respected by not only his fellow colleagues within the Forestry department but also by the other departments on the Estate, its tenants, and the estate owners.”

Outside work, Keith’s passion is sport, particularly cricket. He recently hung up his bat after 30 years of service to the Tillside Cricket Club. He had scored 12,154 runs for the club, racking up 23 centuries and a further 81 half-centuries.

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