Forestry Commission worker Andy Phillips to retire after 47 years working with trees

Andy Phillips -- who started work in Neroche Forest, near Taunton in March 1963 -- is retiring from Forestry Commission Wales after 47 years service at the end of February.

Andy Phillips said: "I remember my first day at work as if it were yesterday. I had to battle through the big freeze on my well-oiled bicycle to ensure I met the local forester to be given my duties. If I had not turned up, I might not have had a job the next day."

His perseverance on his first day meant he was able to start what would become a long and varied career with the Forestry Commission. He worked in many areas of forestry from planting trees through to forest maintenance in Forestry Commission sites in England and Scotland.

In 1972, he transferred to Forestry Commission Wales. He is based at Clocaenog Forest, near Ruthin and is responsible for supervising tree planting in public woodlands in north east and mid Wales.

This winter, Phillips is responsible for ensuring 650,000 trees -- including larch, Douglas fir, Sitka spruce, oak and hazel -- are planted. However, just as in March 1963 when he started work, the weather is having an effect on forest operations and the tree planting programme is severely disrupted.

He said: "I can't remember such a prolonged freeze as this since my first winter with the Forestry Commission. "We have been struggling to even get to the sites where we are due to plant the trees because of the snow and ice.

"We hope to start planting in early February when we should be able to get spades into the soil just before I retire."


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