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RFS Long Service Awards 2019

By Becky Wilkinson · December 12, 2019

The head forester of the Abbeystead Estate in Lancashire has been rewarded for more than 40 years’ service


Celebrating 40 years of great forestry: From left,  Eddie Cruickshank, Chair of RFS North Western Division, RFS Chair Kitty Martin, Abbeystead head forester Mick Dickinson and the Duke of Westminster

Mick Dickinson, of the Abbeystead Estate, situated in the Trough of Bowland, Lancashire, received a medal and certificate for his service to both the estate and woodland management, improving its safety and quality, for conservation of the landscape, timber production and as a habitat.

Mick, aged 60, began working at Abbeystead in the 1970s under the stewardship of the Earls of Sefton before rising to the role of Head Forester after it was bought by the Trustees of the Grosvenor Estate in 1980.

“There’s no comparison between 40 years ago and now,” said Mick. “The industry is a lot more progressive. At Abbeystead we have a long-term management plan and there is a lot more planting. You can see the positive impact we’re having on the landscape and the environment. It’s very satisfying when you can see the results of your day’s work. In years to come, I’ll be able to show my grandchildren and say I planted those trees and managed that woodland.”

As well as managing the estate’s forestry, firewood and biomass fuel businesses, throughout the years Mick and the team have rescued injured dogs, lost walkers and regularly engage with the public about the importance of woodland management.

Neil Kilgour, Agent, Abbeystead Estate, said: “Mick is a fantastic ambassador for sustainable woodland management, the forestry industry and for the Abbeystead Estate. He fully deserves this recognition. It is the aim of the estate to contribute to the social, economic and environmental wellbeing of the communities we are part of, and Mick has personified this throughout his career.”

Abbeystead is situated in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and more than two thirds of the estate is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Special Protection Area (SPA) for its rare habitat and the flora and fauna it supports.

The estate brings a sustainable approach to the stewardship of land, property and the environment, increasing biodiversity. It is home to some of the strongest populations in the UK of red listed species such as curlew and lapwing.

From Garden Boy to Head Forester


David, who lives in Great Walsingham, was presented with the award at the President’s Pavilion LawnDeputy President of the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association, The Most Honourable the Marquess of Cholmondeley KCVO DL presents the 50 year award to David Spooner. Picture Credit:  J Bass

A remarkable career spanning more than 50 years with the Walsingham Estate in Norfolk was marked with an award from the Royal Forestry Society at the Royal Norfolk Show for David Spooner.

Although David joined the Walsingham Estate team as a Garden Boy in 1968 his association with the Estate dates even further back as he recalls delivering flowers from the gardens on a handcart around the village on Saturdays and during school holidays aged only 11!

David became Head Forester in 2002. He says: “I have always loved working in the woods, doing everything from planting to felling.”

David’s son Ben is now following in his father’s footsteps as a forestry contractor.

John Downing, Resident Land Agent for Walsingham Estate says: “David has been a greatly valued part of our Estate team for over 50 years, starting part time in the gardens and then joining the forestry team. He retires with our thanks and very best wishes. We are pleased that he will continue living on the Estate and helping out from time to time.”

Walsingham Estate has traditional mixed woodlands of around 180 acres.

Surprise Award for Holkham Estate Forester


Freddy Futter with his award for 40 years service Picture: Taber Photography

A forester from the Holkham Estate in Norfolk received a surprise award when members of the Royal Forestry Society (RFS) from across the country visited the Sotterley Estate in Suffolk as part of a five-day tour of East Anglia.

Freddy Futter, 68, who lives in Holkham, Wells-next-the-Sea, was presented with an Award by RFS President Andrew Woods, recognising his 40 years working on the Holkham Estate’s 870 hectares of woodland while on the visit to the Sotterley Estate – work which has included helping to extract fine hardwood timber.

Head forester Harry Wakefield said: “Freddy has been an asset to the Holkham forestry department over the last 40 years. His experience, pride and knowledge of the woodland has been invaluable.”

Freddy said: “The day was very enjoyable and informative. I have to say that I was overwhelmed and very much surprised to be given the award and I would like to thank Harry and the Holkham forestry team for their support.”

Approximately 500 hectares of woodland is contained within Holkham Park. A further 145 hectares is within Holkham National Nature Reserve and the balance is dispersed across the estate. The forestry team focuses on delivering the best hardwoods and softwoods wherever they occur while manging woodland to preserve and enhance the historic landscape.

Powis Castle woodsman in the spotlight

Andrew Love at Powis Castle Estate

The work of a woodsman at Powis Castle Estate for more than three decades was recognised with a Royal Forestry Society (RFS) Award at the Royal Welsh Show. Among Andrew Love’s many achievements on the estate was the felling of trees to help replace the timbers lost in the fire at York Minster.

Andrew, 57, who lives in Montgomery, was presented with the award by outgoing Chair of the RFS North Wales Division Robert Jones-Perrott.

Andrew’s work on the estate had begun with thinning mature oak trees 34 years ago and Estate Manager Jack Tavernor says: “ Andy has shown great dedication to the Estate, his work is first class and he is a real asset to the team. He has seen the end result from clear falls and replanting, regrown to thinning.”

Powis Castle Estate has approximately 607ha (1,500ac) of mixed woodland. It has a strong reputation for pro-active management and is renowned for producing some great specimen oak.

Devon’s ‘legendary’ trio

Devon’s ‘legendary’ forestry trio: From the left, Clive Hunt, Mark Jeffery and Simon Tremain with Lord Clinton, past President of the Royal Forestry Society, who presented the awards

Three forestry “legends” have received prestigious awards when the Royal Forestry Society’s South Western Division met at Eggesford Forest, near Chawleigh, Devon.

Between them, Clive Hunt from Dalton, Mark Jeffery from Tavistock and Simon Tremain from Okehampton have more than 117 years of service with Forestry England (an agency of the Forestry Commission) across woodland in North and South Devon.

Simon Tremain, who has clocked up 46 years, joined the Forestry Commission in October 1973. He was the last Forestry Commission machine operator in the South West and took part in a 1989 Challenge Anneka to transform a derelict barn into a boat house. He also helped to create the commemorative planting at Eggesford to mark the 75th anniversary of the Commission.

Clive Hunt has worked on the Eggesford Forest blocks for almost 40 years under 11 successive foresters. He also took part in Challenge Anneka and was later instrumental in helping to establish a successful Forest Craftsperson Apprenticeship scheme to mould the next generation of forestry professionals.

Mark Jeffery has 32 years’ service on Dartmoor and in Tavistock Woodlands, and received a Civil Service Award for the work he carried out supervising a Dartmoor Prison rehabilitation project for 12 years. He has twice been a runner up in Devon’s felling championships.

Lord Clinton of Clinton Devon Estates and a past president of the Royal Forestry Society made the awards.

Kay Greenwell, North Devon Beat Forester & Ben Philipps, South Devon Beat Forester said: “Clive, Mark and Simon have made an outstanding contribution to woodlands across Devon.  They are very capable and take immense pride in the work that that they do, setting high standards for themselves and those around them. We cannot do justice to their contributions over the years.’’

‘’Signs of Mark’s contributions can be seen throughout Dartmoor and Plym and his work rate is legendary. Clive and Simon have helped to shape Eggesford and the wider North Devon beat, showing dedication throughout their careers and taking particular pride in mentoring and developing apprentices.’’

“They all have a wealth of knowledge and passion for forestry, particularly timber production, and continue to look for ways of improving the quality of the timber in the area.”