A FORESTRY professional, who is the third generation of his family to have worked on a Northumberland estate, has been given a prestigious Royal Forestry Society (RFS) award. 

Keith Bickerton picked up the Long Service Award for his efforts of more than 30 years on the Ford and Etal Estate.

A highly skilled chainsaw operator, the 52-year-old followed in the footsteps of his dad Derek and uncle Ivor in being given the certificate. His grandfather Bob Bickerton also worked on the 700 hectares of mixed conifer and broadleaf woodland, not far from Berwick-upon-Tweed. 

Lord Joicey, whose family have owned Ford and Etal Estates for more than 100 years, paid tribute.

READ MORE: A visit to Ford and Etal Sawmill in Northumberland

He said: “It is a rare thing, and a true privilege, when an employee achieves over 30 years of excellent service to an estate.

"In Keith’s case, it is made more special by the fact that both his father Derek and his late uncle Ivor were also awarded Long Service certificates for their many years’ work on the estate’s farms.

“His grandfather Bob Bickerton served many years as the estate hedge-layer. The family’s wider contribution to the community in this small corner of North Northumberland is truly outstanding.

“Keith is a highly skilled chainsaw operator who has also been a wonderful tutor and mentor to younger members of the team.  There probably isn’t a compartment of forestry in which he hasn’t worked.”

Robert Nevins, head of forestry at Ford and Etal, added: “Over the last 30 years Keith has developed into one of the most important employees we have, showing himself to be a highly skilled chainsaw operator and a multi-skilled estate worker, who is capable of stepping into many roles.

Forestry Journal: Partially hidden by a dusting of snow is the well-organised yard of Ford and Etal Sawmill.Partially hidden by a dusting of snow is the well-organised yard of Ford and Etal Sawmill.

“He is highly respected by not only his fellow colleagues within the Forestry department but also by the other departments on the estate, its tenants, and the estate owners.”