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Apprentices spark Forest of Dean facelift

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wpd volunteering

A group of 19 apprentices from Western Power Distribution (WPD) has taken part in a project with Forestry Commission England to help improve community green spaces in the Forest of Dean.

The volunteers, who are all undertaking electrical apprenticeships, spent a week around three sites learning new skills and carrying out improvements to the area.

Working closely with Forestry Commisison England, the apprentices built a new section of cycle track at Sallow Vallets, Cannop Cycle Centre, shovelling and wheelbarrowing several tons of stone and hardcore. At Wenchford they removed an old trail and installed new trail marker posts on a walk along the Blackpool Stream.

Some of the apprentices worked with Forestry Commission England rangers to carry out maintenance at Beechenhurst play area. They mended pieces of play equipment, replaced timber and raked bark chip to spread it evenly under play pieces. They also spent time installing a vehicle gate and relocating trees at the Berry Hill Community Orchard in Coleford.

Other members of the group widened community access paths that had become overgrown at Parkend Tump and constructed valuable ‘windrows’ with silver birch saplings, bracken and brambles that they cleared. These will be used by nesting birds as well as small mammals and forest sheep which can use them as shelter against the wind.

Steve Gibbons from WPD’s Training and Safety Team said:

“Everyone has thoroughly enjoyed this project. The apprentices have gained valuable team building skills while carrying out practical work that will benefit the community.”

Heather Lilley, Community and Communications Manager for Forestry Commission West England District added:

“We always welcome apprentices from WPD to the Forest of Dean with great excitement and expectation – this is a fantastic partnership – the apprentices have a chance to gain skills in planning, risk assessment and in practical tasks, and Forestry Commission England gets an enormous amount of work achieved. The apprentices work really hard, are so positive and a real credit to their employer.”

Note for newsdesks:

About the Forestry Commission:

• The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment.  Further information can be found at

England's Woods and Forests are cared for by Forest Enterprise England, an agency of the Forestry Commission.
About Western Power Distribution:
• Western Power Distribution (WPD) is the distribution network operator for the Midlands, South West England and South Wales, and is responsible for delivering electricity to approximately 7.8 million customers in the UK.

• WPD is not an electricity supply company and does not bill customers in the UK. Its responsibility is to distribute electricity from the point of generation to homes and businesses.

For further information about Western Power Distribution please contact Stella Hayward on 01332 827461.
For Further information about the Forestry Commission, please contact Heather Lilley on