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Festive forester weighs anchor in Hamsterley

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Forester Mark Child harvesting Christmas trees in Hamsterley Forest

A top rower has set course to help shape County Durham’s spectacular woods and he plans to start by spreading Christmas cheer!

Mark Child, 25, has been appointed Forestry Commission forester for beauty spots including Hamsterley Forest, near Bishop Auckland, Chopwell Wood, Gateshead, and Slaley Forest, near Hexham.

Now he’s getting ready to oversee Christmas tree sales for the first time in 2,000 hectare (5,000 acre) Hamsterley Forest which begin on 1 December, 10am to 4pm. He said:

“It’s a really busy time of year and I’m fully away that a visit to the forest to pick up a Christmas tree is a long family tradition locally so I’d better be on my mettle!”

Mark graduated with a forestry degree from Bangor University, Wales, and had stints in Thetford Forest, East Anglia and Sherwood Forest before moving north.  He is now responsible for 4,000 hectares (10,000 acres) of prime public woodland, renowned for its diversity and beauty.  When he’s not working in the woods, the Londoner is a skilled oarsman, taking a silver medal at the National Championships last year in a four-man boat.  He trains on the River Tyne.

“The beauty of the area is staggering and woods like Hamsterley have a real wilderness feel to them, especially on crisp winter’s morning.”

Lodgepole pines, Norway spruce and Nordmann fir are all available from Hamsterley until 19 December.   During weekends a green father Christmas – the traditional British Santa – will be in residence to greet youngsters. 

The Forestry Commission say real trees use 10 times fewer materials to produce and five times less energy than artificial trees. And as an incentive to go green you could also win two tickets for next year's Summer Forestry Commission concerts by posting a picture of a your fabulous tree on the Forestry Commission's Flicker site at  The one judged to be the best decorated will carry off the brilliant prize for its owner. 

Visitor information on 01388 488312.

Notes to Editor

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. For more visit

Media calls to Richard Darn on 0775 367 0038.