Jun 09 2021

Welcome to Andrew Cook – new Project Manager for the Lost Woods of the Wealds of Down

It is always sad to say goodbye to respected colleagues and no less so than when Ed Goodall left the Trust this month to take up a new role with Whale and Dolphin Conservation. Ed had been with the Trust for nearly four years and we all wish him well.


However, where we will miss Ed, we are also very excited to welcome a new face to his role. Over to Andrew Cook to introduce himself…


“My background was in Telecoms for 23 years in various companies but the majority in BT working all over the country. I moved out of London in 2016 and was fortunate to buy a 30 acre 17th century farm with adjoining woodland in Danehill in the High Weald. The farm is surrounded by various woodlands including the mighty Sheffield Woods, not to mention the adjacent stunning Ashdown Forest. 


I have been working tirelessly getting the fields back into shape, removing invasive species and caring for the existing trees: it’s been wonderful. I am an active member and participant of the South East Hedgelaying society, am regularly found with a chainsaw carrying out pollarding/coppicing in the winter months, planting new trees which included planting an entire orchard of more than 100 trees and, of course, laying hedges/planting new hedges around the fields. Summer is not quiet either as we are tending the vegetables, monitoring our meadows and helping with the sheep/cattle. One of my favourite trees is what we call ‘the hand tree’ (beech) down our track (pictured below)…Our meadows are another favourite which includes the incredibly rare chimney sweeper moth! I feel extraordinarily lucky to live where I live and my eight-year-old is expressing a real interest in ecology and climbing trees too! 


Andrew and the ‘hand beech’!


Throughout this experience, I have realised how incredible the Sussex countryside is, an area where I grew up with fond memories yet continuously under threat. My heart aches every time I see a new field, tree or hedgeline removed especially with developments popping up everywhere. My partner, Katherine, told me rather than moaning about the issue that I should do something about this…a change of career was required!


I now have a real sense of pride that I’ll be working for the Woodland Trust plus a sense that I’ll hopefully be able to do something about the threats trees are facing in my project area. It’s a fantastic charity, which I have supported in the past, and the fact that my role will encompass protecting the ancient woodlands of the neighbouring Low Weald is the perfect job.


Principally, my role will involve working with like-minded landowners within the 320Km boundary who own ancient woodlands and discuss ways in which the Woodland Trust can help them to preserve their own patch (3ha) of ancient woodland- they are custodians for such a small period of time but what they do is incredibly vital for future generations! I also look forward to working with our fantastic partners to help teach landowners the skills they will need to preserve their own part of history/ecology and I really look forward to working with the volunteer group, monitoring ancient and veteran trees, which, again, is absolutely vital at this time.”


Thank you so much, Andrew, and we look forward to working with you and getting to know you as you settle into your new role!


Words: Anna Claxton (Volunteer Development Officer, SE) and Andrew Cook (Project Manager, Lost Woods…)

Pics: Andrew Cook

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