THE Prince of Wales Award for the top student attending the Woodland Heritage ‘Woodland to Workshop’ courses in 2019 has been awarded to Rachel Johnson, a Ben Law apprentice at the time she attended her course.

Rachel is the 10th recipient of the award and faced a tough test to become the winner, as three courses – rather than the usual two – were run last year, meaning tutors had over 30 students to choose from.

Woodland Heritage Trustee, course tutor and Duchy of Cornwall head forester Geraint Richards said: “Both during the course and subsequently, Rachel has shown a great passion for learning about wood. Grounded, very practical and always with good humour, Rachel has great potential which we hope that with good fortune she can meet.”

With financial assistance via a Wood-Mizer UK bursary, Rachel took three days off from her woodland apprenticeship with Ben Law in Coppice Management and Natural Building (Roundwood Timber Framing) to attend ‘Woodland to Workshop’, which was held half-way through her year with Ben at Prickly Nut Wood in West Sussex.

Rachel said: “My time at Ben’s was a unique experience. Ben is an excellent teacher with an obvious true love for the woodland. I learned so much about the woodland, biodiversity, sustainability, and coppicing. There is something quite rewarding about felling trees, bucking, extracting and then building with timber. The Woodland to Workshop course was the perfect addition to my learning and I am indebted to the course teachers for passing on so much knowledge to me.”

Having also gained a chainsaw ticket, Rachel is intending to gain further experience at a new site in the South East, which will develop her skills in managing small woodlands, producing timber for conversion and then building timber-framed structures.

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