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New Registered Consultants

Author:  Arboricultural Association
Last Updated:  17/06/2021
AA Registered Consultant

We are delighted to welcome two new Registered Consultants who have recently successfully completed their application assessment and interview. Congratulations to Simon Cox from Gloucestershire and Trevor Heaps from Hampshire! Here Simon and Trevor share their thoughts on the journey to AARC.

Simon Cox

Simon Cox

Over a decade ago, I came up with a plan to become an arboricultural consultant. After a few fits and starts, I have now achieved another of the credentials I set out to earn. Some might call it the ‘pinnacle’, others the ‘platinum’ or ‘gold’ standard; for me, I’m just happy to say I meet at least the minimum standards expected of the scheme – a scheme which I hold in high regard.

I enjoyed the scrutiny of the assessors throughout the process, particularly the interview. If you are open minded enough to acknowledge your practice could be improved, then go for it. Those involved with the scheme helped by steering me in the right direction, which is of great credit to them. Quite a few people have helped me over the years: an encouraging word here, a kick up the backside there. Thank you to all of them; hopefully you know who you are.

So, I cannot encourage enough anyone who calls themselves a ‘consultant’ to go through this process, which starts by meeting the eligibility criteria. All that time ago, those are the eligibility criteria I researched and started working towards.

Trevor Heaps

Trevor Heaps

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.

This article was taken from Issue 193 Summer 2021 of the ARB Magazine, which is available to view free to members by simply logging in to the website and viewing your profile area.