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When your career goes off the rails it's normally something to bemoan. But for nature fan Andrew Rothwell it couldn’t have been better news.
The 40 year old Forestry Commission wildlife ranger will be setting his clock for a 6am start on Sunday 11 September to take people on a safari to see roe deer in stunning 2,000 hectare (5,000 acre) Hamsterley Forest, near Bishop Auckland.
The free event is being staged as part of Discovery Day celebrations to mark the United Nation's International Year of the Forest.
But for Andrew every morning is a celebration.
Originally a mechanic, his career moved into building management in the railway industry, until one day he asked himself whether he could face doing this for the next 30 years. The answer was no and so after a heart-felt chat with his new wife he decided to hand back the keys to his company car and follow his dream of working with wildlife. He embarked on a two year college course in game and wildlife management and then had a year’s work experience in the Lake District before landing the plum role of Hamsterley Forest’s Wildlife Ranger .
"We live in the heart of the forest and instead of getting the train to commute to work I now drive off into the trees with the birds singing. It couldn’t have worked out better. I'm originally from a farming family in Kent, so the countryside is ingrained in my soul. Hamsterley is such a wonderful place - a real mosaic of habitats with conifers, broadleaves, hill tops, valleys and wild hay meadows. Part of my job is to keep the deer population at a sustainable and healthy level. I'm passionate about the animal, but left unchecked it would cause of a lot of damage to trees and habitats. But it's also about educating visitors about things like ground nesting birds and getting involved in monitoring wildlife like bats. It's been a good career move which I don't regret for a second."
Later the same day rangers are staging a second free International Year of the Forest event in Hamsterley.
Wildfood fan Neil Taylor will don his walking boost and lead folk off into the forest to discover the ultimate credit brunch by learning how to rustle up a tasty meal using the fruits of the forest like berries, leaves and seeds (1pm to 3pm).
Richard Gilchrist, Chief Wildlife Ranger, said:
“These Forestry Commission woods have developed into a fantastically rich mosaic of habitats and well managed forests have never been more important for wildlife and for the future.”
Booking is essential for both these events - places are free but limited. Contact 01388 488312 or for more information visit www.forestry.gov.uk/NorthEastEngland
Note to editor
- Roe deer are one of Britain's native deer species and have become the most widespread. They became largely extinct in the 1700s and were only later reintroduced. Unlike other deer, they do not live in herds, but are most often seen as solitary individuals or as a family group of a mother and her offspring. Does gives birth to one to three kids in May or June. Bambi the deer, from the children's books, was a roe deer.
- Forestry Commission England is celebrating the International Year of Forests throughout 2011 by raising awareness of forests and woodlands throughout the country and making links from local to global forests. On 11 September ‘Forest Discovery Days’ are being staged across all of our major sites to raise awareness of local forests, the range of activities available and give people a chance to meet rangers and understand multi-purpose forestry better.
- The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from planting and managing attractive, as well as productive, woodlands.
Media calls: Richard Darn on 0775 367 0038.