One winters day in 2012/13, whilst working as a trainee woodsman at Bradfield Woods NNR, my good friend Steve, the winter woodsman, and I were discussing the number of coppice woodlands in East Anglia that appeared to be out of rotation and neglected. We thought it was such a shame to let a wood deteriorate and lose value, from both the economic and the biodiversity aspects, when we would love to go in and restore them back to their former glory.
As a result, we came up with the idea of the Wandering Woodsmen where we could offer Traditional Woodland and Countryside management services to all land owners at affordable prices, with grants subsidising the costs where possible. The business was established winter 2013/14.
Grae Piercy. Co-founder.
I have had an interest in woodlands as far back as I can remember. As a child, there was nothing I loved more than building dens and playing in the woods, looking for newts and frogs in the streams and ponds, climbing trees and building jumps to ride our push bikes over.
After working for around 20 years in world championship motorsport, redundancy gave me the opportunity for a career change. Initially, I studied Hand crafted furniture and Advanced hand crafted furniture at college coming away with 2 City and Guilds distinctions but struggled to find employment. I decided to try and find someone to teach me to become a woodsman. A friend of a friend spoke to Pete Fordham, the reserve manager at Bradfield Woods NNR, who said that if I was prepared to make a commitment, I should go along and have a chat with him. That was September 2010. I was very fortunate. Pete took a liking to me as he could see how keen I was and took me under his wing, teaching me woodland management for nature conservation and passing on his skills, for which I am very grateful.
Steve Adams. Co-founder.
I grew up in rural Kent surrounded by countryside and wildlife, plenty to spark an interest in nature and the environment. My interest developed through school and college and I eventually moved to Cambridge to study Natural history, Ecology and conservation.
After graduating I spent time volunteering in Peru for a conservation organization. The work was diverse but based primarily in the rainforest. The rainforest provided the perfect backdrop to develop my understanding of biodiversity and ecosystems.
Returning to the UK I knew I wanted to continue working in conservation so contacted Pete Fordham at Bradfield Woods NNR with a view to volunteering. Within the year I had a chainsaw license and was employed as the winter woodsman. Grae joined shortly after and with Pete Fordham’s help, Wandering Woodsmen was set-up.
Pete Fordham. Woodland Advisor.
Pete has been a fantastic ally, mentor and friend to both of us, and continues to be so.
He has been awarded the MBE for his contribution to nature conservation, single handedly managing Bradfield Woods NNR for many years, although he tends not to talk about it.
He is a very generous man, passing on his skills and extensive knowledge not only to us, but to a number of others as well, ensuring the continuation of sound woodland conservation practice into the future.
We are very fortunate that Pete has agreed to be our Woodland Advisor. His knowledge and expertise is a great asset to the Wandering Woodsmen.