Ian Millward pays tribute to one of the industry's leading figures. 

Roger was passionate about forestry for his entire career and his infectious enthusiasm for woodlands and trees inspired many a young forester. 

He never stopped championing forestry to all who would listen. He had a great sense of humour and a boundless supply of energy. Retirement was not a word that ever passed his lips and he continued to work as a forestry consultant right up to the end. 

Roger had been involved in  woodland management in the south east for eight decades and was awarded the MBE for services to forestry in 1992.

Born in Sutton, Surrey on 9 July 1935 Roger’s interest in forestry was evident from an early age. At 17 he left school and worked in forestry for a year before National service called and he spent two years working as an electrician with the RAF. 

On completion of his National Service, he was once again drawn back to forestry and attended the Forestry Commission’s Forest Of Dean Training school between 1956-58. Roger continued to attend their annual reunions until 2023.

Roger never stopped championing forestry to all who would listen. Roger never stopped championing forestry to all who would listen. (Image: Supplied)

On graduation, Roger joined Wealden Woodlands, which in the late 1960s merged with Oakover to form English Woodlands, of which  Roger became a director. In 2002, English Woodlands was bought by Tilhill. Roger remained as a consultant with Tilhill for some time but Roger was old school and never a great one for formal systems and procedures. He liked to do things his way! 

He set up as a self-employed forestry consultant. It is a measure of the respect and trust that his clients had in Roger as a forester that he took most of his estates with him when he set up on his own. Roger took great pride in showing people around his long managed estates, showing areas that were being harvested that he had planted 40 years previously. 

In 2016, Roger was awarded the Long Service Award with Bronze medal by the Royal Forestry Society for 44 years service at Hascombe Estate in Surrey.

Roger was a key figure in the early years of the Association Of Professional Foresters serving on its council for over 30 years until it merged with the Timber Growers Association to form Confor on 1 January 2002. 

It was with the APF that Roger first had the idea of a national forestry show to act as a showcase for APF trade members. The first National Forestry Demonstration took place in 1976 at Longleat with, naturally, Roger as its first Exhibition Director. 

The show soon became a major feature in the forestry calendar and became simply known as the APF Demo. Roger remained as Exhibition Director for 26 years leading it from its very simple beginnings to the huge event it is today.  Roger welcomed the Princess Royal to open APF 2002 at Lockerbie at his last show in charge.

Roger and the APF Demo committee in circa 1980 Roger and the APF Demo committee in circa 1980 (Image: Supplied)

Even on retirement Roger wanted to remain part of the APF Team and would turn up every couple of years to help with car parking.  Like everything he did he liked precision and could be seen marking out the car park lines with his trusty measuring wheel and a roll of baler twine, spurning more modern surveying methods. 

When the APF Demo went to Cannock in 2008 Roger was delighted to recognise the old Nissan huts and parade ground from his National Service days.

Always keen to expand on his forestry knowledge, Roger both  organised and took part in a series of tours to visit forests all over Europe including Poland, Romania, Finland, and Holland as well as visiting other European forestry shows to see if the APF Demo could learn anything from them and was always pleased to find out that we couldn’t! The final tour he organised was to see the radio active forests of Belarus.

Many a forestry discussion took place and the world put to rights during the evenings of these tours over a beer or a vodka. Following the Romania tour he was invited back to attend the wedding of the translator who the UK contingent had befriended. The wedding lasted three days and the subsequent hangover even longer!

Away from forestry Roger was never one to sit down and relax. With his wife Pauline they fostered over 600 children. An unbelievable achievement that was recognised by Pauline being awarded an BEM. Roger and Pauline were heavily involved with local guide and scout groups with Roger getting permission for many camps and activities in the woodlands he managed.

When Roger and Pauline finally retired from fostering they filled some of the time with trips to far flung locations, sailing up the Amazon and visiting Antarctica.

He was awarded the MBE for services to forestry in 1992. He was awarded the MBE for services to forestry in 1992. (Image: Supplied)

Following the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 Roger became involved in the Haslemere link of the charity Chernobyl Children Lifeline. This charity helped children from Belarus who had developed cancer following the fallout from Chernobyl. The charity would host children for a month long visit to build up their health and strength and take them on various activities.  On one occasion Roger drove a Post Office van full of aid from the UK to Belarus.

Roger never had any intention of retiring, continuing to work as a forestry consultant until he died aged 88 after a short illness. With his big bushy beard Roger was a great, larger than life, old school forester; a real gentleman, the like of which the forestry world will probably never see again.

Roger is survived by his wife Pauline, sons Mark, David and Richard, his daughter Joanne, adopted daughter Marla, 13 grandchildren and one great grandchild.