“Forty years ago I served a traditional cabinet maker’s apprenticeship in Liverpool, and went on to develop a successful furniture-making business based at my own workshop on Penny Lane! At that time, most of the timber I used was pine (pinus resinosa) imported from North America, and Mahogany ( swietenia macrophylla) from Brazil.
However, whilst working in Germany during the early 1980’s I became very involved in the emerging Green Movement and recognised the need to source timber for furniture-making in a more sustainable and ethical manner.
When I returned to England in 1982 I became one of the founder-trustees of the Green Wood Trust in Shropshire. Our mission was to restore traditional coppice management in native woodlands, re-discover and re-learn the lost skills of green wood working, and stimulate interest in traditional and modern timber-framed buildings.
In 1991 I became the Executive Chairman of the newly-created Severn Gorge Countryside Trust. The Trust manages 700 acres of woodlands in the Ironbridge Gorge Heritage Site. During this time I developed a keen interest in the holistic management of woodlands, and became an enthusiastic advocate of the principles of continuous cover forestry. Eventually I went on to study for a Master’s degree in woodland ecology at Wolverhampton University.
Now I’m in my early 60s, and have recently created a spacious workshop here at Little Trewern Farm. We manage our own native woodlands to maximise their ecological diversity, whilst at the same time extracting a sustainable harvest of timber for use in furniture-making. I make some greenwood artefacts from hazel, but mostly I make traditional furniture from the air-dried oak, ash and cherry, which predominate on the rich soils in this spectacular landscape on the edge of the Brecon Beacons.
However, apart from wood and woodlands, my other passion is teaching! I’m a qualified teacher with a lifetime’s experience of teaching adults. I am now keen to pass on my skills and knowledge of wood and woodlands to another generation of woodworkers, especially those who are just starting out on their journey of discovery. And of course, I’m still learning too!