My journey to AARC started in 1995 after I spotted an advert in the local paper for a ‘trainee tree climber’. I applied, got the job and loved it from the start.
Part of the job involved attending college (first in 1997) to study for a City and Guilds Phase 2 Qualification. I enjoyed it, so went back for another year (in 2000) to study for Phase 3. I was then offered a job at Hillingdon Council as a tree officer (managing council-owned trees). I worked at Hillingdon for two years before heading off to Australia for a year in 2002. The Aussies thought it very funny that I wore my full protective clothing in 40-degree heat! I reluctantly left Australia in 2003 and managed to get my job back at Hillingdon, where I settled down again as a tree officer.
In 2008, I started a three-year online course studying for my Foundation degree. Afterwards, I spent a further two years topping this up to a Bachelor’s degree, completing it in 2010, about the same time I was offered a different job at Hillingdon – as a trees and landscape officer (dealing with private trees). It was only at this point (quite late on in my career) that I realised arboricultural consultants even existed! I began looking at how to become one myself, and signed up for the AA Consultancy Course. It was about this time I also signed up to become Chartered with the ICF.
It was at the AA course that Jim Quaife offered to mentor me through the AARC Scheme. Who better, as Jim had been a Lead Assessor for the scheme. I remember sending off my first report to him: there were lots of issues that meant it wouldn’t have even got through the first stage of the process – it didn’t even have a contents page! But, after several long discussions with Jim, I managed to get my first report up to standard.
I left Jim in peace at this point, and gradually spent the next few years putting my portfolio together. It took a while because I was also building up my own consultancy practice (I left Hillingdon in 2015). I finally submitted the portfolio in November 2020 and was delighted to find out it had been accepted.
One last hurdle: the interview ... I had two weeks to prepare, so I started swotting up. It wasn’t until the day before that I noticed that the AARC application guide provided advice on what to expect. So, better late than never, I downloaded the various documents and an app that turned text into speech and spent the next day driving between sites listening to a loop of the recordings.
I was very nervous about the interview, but the team put me at ease from the outset. I thought it went well, and I was very relieved to receive the call to say that I am finally a Registered Consultant.