A COPPICE worker from Carnforth who has been integral in securing the industry’s future has received an MBE.
Rebecca Oaks said she was ‘really chuffed’ to be honoured for her services to coppicing and woodcraft in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
The 57-year-old started her coppicing business in 1994 and has since dedicated herself to promoting and celebrating coppicing and green wood crafts, as well as helping the next generation of coppice workers learn the skills of the trade.
Coppicing is a woodland management method where trees are repeatedly felled at the base, and then allowed to regrow, in order to provide a sustainable supply of timber.
“I’m really chuffed,” said Ms Oaks.
“It’s lovely to have the recognition, I’ve put the years and I’ve recently stepped back from my posts.
“So it was lovely that my colleagues thought to nominate me.”
Ms Oaks is the founder and driving force behind the Bill Hogarth Memorial Apprenticeship Trust (BHMAT), set up in 2001 in honour of her mentor, to provide training in sustainable woodland management.
Since developing a structured three-year apprenticeship 18 apprentices have received diplomas through the scheme, most of whom now run their own coppice craft businesses.
“I got into coppicing in the early 90s and it was very much a dying industry at that point,” said Ms Oaks.
“There felt like there was a gap in training and new entrants and particularly when Bill died, we felt we should put together an apprenticeship scheme.
“I’m very keen to encourage others to get involved because it’s a fantastic job but quite specialised.”
She also developed a partnership with the Small Woods Association (SWA) to run the National Coppice Apprenticeship Scheme and was a founder director of the National Coppice Federation (NCFed), which gives a national, unified voice to regional coppice groups.
And she was Chair/Vice-chair of the Coppice Association Northwest from 1996-2018.
Ms Oaks has spent many years championing new coppice workers, particularly encouraging women to join the industry, and has said her proudest achievement is seeing apprentices flourish post apprenticeship.
“My proudest moment would be working with the apprentices and seeing their businesses and how innovative they are,” she said.
“It’s exciting seeing people pushing boundaries and making a living.”
In addition to her practical and training work, she has written three coppicing and coppice craft books, one of which won the Woodland Awards best books of the year in 2018.
Ms Oaks added: “All these things are not down to one person, it’s a team effort.”