I am passionate about woodlands. These habitats can support high levels of biodiversity that have developed in harmony with centuries old management practices whilst at the same time offering us multiple benefits and resources. I consider myself to be a green woodworker and social woodlander, utilising materials from woodland management to create beautiful and bespoke products and using woodlands as a resource for delivering positive activities with children and young people. From choosing the right dead branches for bow and drill fire lighting to coppicing poles for cleft wood hurdles and fencing to selecting the best logs for roundwood timber framing I like to maximise the utilisation of felled trees, adding value to what otherwise might be waste material, and negating the need to bring in chemically-treated timbers with high product-miles.
I enjoy leading young people in practical tasks whether it’s for conservation purposes or to make functional structures such as benches, gates or boardwalks. I strongly believe that it’s very important to work with our hands. Using our hands to make things uses parts of the brain not used in desk-based work and, in craft work, connects us to our forebears. I’ve seen many, many times the satisfaction and pride that young people feel from having made something useful from scratch. I’ve witnessed transformations of young people from disengaged, trouble making, rebellious or simply distracted schoolroom pupils into confident, engaged team members, just because they are doing hands-on tasks in a natural setting. Simple skills gained in this kind of work can be extremely useful in later life.
I can lead groups or deliver training in the following:
- Woodland crafts including gate/hurdle making, cleft wood fencing, stool making and besom broom making
- Bushcrafts and foraging
- Hedge laying
- Natural sculptures
- Play structures
Youth Officer, Staffordshire Wildlife Trust (October 2005 – Present)
Achievements and responsibilities:
- Developing and delivering the youth engagement project as part of the Churnet Valley Living Landscape Partnership, engaging over 500 young people aged 12 – 21 in positive activities over a four year period.
- Establishing and running a popular weekly Youth Rangers project.
- Delivering and assessing a Level 2 Certificate in work-based Environmental Conservation.
- Facilitating young people to complete a wide range of practical projects within the local community, including the construction of a cob youth shelter.
- Helping more than 50 young people to achieve a John Muir Award.
- Line managing the Trust’s Training Officer and a team of sessional staff.
- Managing a project budget of nearly £200,000.
Community and Education Officer, Groundwork Blackburn (April 2003 – October 2005)
- Development and delivery of community environmental and regeneration projects
- Delivery of environmental education workshops
- Securing funding, monitoring outputs and reporting to funders
- Assisting with the management of the Environment Centre
Education and Training
ITC Outdoor First Aid
Social Forestry Practitioner (Level 3)
MLTE Walking Group Leader
Level 3 Certificate in Assessing Candidates (A1)
Lancaster University (January 2002 – December 2002)
MRes Environment and Development (Overseas Placement) – PASS
University of Liverpool (October 1996 – July 1999)
BSc (Hons) Zoology – 2:1
Lawrence Sheriff School, Rugby (October 1993 – July 1996)
A-Levels: Biology (A), Chemistry (B), Maths (B)
GCSEs: 8 grades A*-B