Me & My Job - Paul Thompson-Gough, apprentice gardener, Kirklees Council

Paul Thompson-Gough, apprentice gardener, Kirklees Council - image: HW
Paul Thompson-Gough, apprentice gardener, Kirklees Council - image: HW

How did you get started in the industry?

For almost 20 years, I worked in the engineering industry. Then in the spring of 2010, at the age of 34, I decided to pursue a career that would encompass my passions, which are flora and fauna. I was accepted onto the work-based learning programme at Kirklees, which provided on-the-job training in conjunction with a level 2 diploma in horticulture.

What advice would you give to others starting out?

Anyone considering this career should apply regardless of age, background or skill set. Take the opportunity with both hands - the more you put in, the more you will get out of the course. Never be afraid to ask questions, however silly they may seem to you.

What is the best part of your job?

There are so many. Meeting new colleagues, working with the public, immense satisfaction when you complete a job and learning something new every single day.

And the worst?

I suppose emptying park bins can be a little off-putting, but it's an important part of the job. The weather can sometimes be against you too, but it's something you acclimatise to very quickly.

What is your biggest achievement at work?

Successfully completing my apprenticeship and diploma, and winning the Association for Public Service Excellence horticultural apprentice of the year award.

How do you relax after a hard day at work?

I am lucky to live in a place where I can walk out of my door and into the wilderness of the moors, so I regularly walk with my wife and my dog, watching the wildlife around us. I also volunteer for the National Trust.

What does the future hold?

My aim is to secure permanent employment with Kirklees and go on to study a level 3 diploma in horticulture. I would also very much like to be a mentor for future apprentices. I have finally found a career I love and I'll do the best I can to continue following that path.


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