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Honouring Blenheim's top forester
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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.

 On Stage Countryfile 025 Cropped Lr2
 Outside With John Craven Cropped Lr

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 about his career 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.”

Details of six other Long Service Awards presented by the Royal Foresty Society during 2016 to foresters who between them have more than 200 years experience can be found here.