In 1960, to get into the Forestry Department you not only required the promise of excellent A levels and a testimonial from one’s headmaster, you also needed to pass a rigorous interview with the formidable Prof Mobbs, who might throw at you questions about the bud scales of the small-leaved lime. Thankfully I was offered a place.
At that time Bangor had a mere 850 students, and college life played an equal part to one’s studies. With so few students it was possible to be on nodding terms with most. The plethora of societies was loosely supervised by a very active SRC, and elections for its membership keenly contested and I was elected as elections secretary.
For many the Saturday night hop in PJ, to the Ray Irvine band, the Original Downtown Syncopators, or even our own Roger Whittaker gave a chance to meet the opposite sex, at a time when blokes still significantly outnumbered the gals. The camaraderie of four years of forestry classes, extensive vacation trips to Scotland, France and elsewhere, forged friendships that have lasted a lifetime, and some of us still meet up from all quarters of the globe.
I went to Montana and took a Masters in Forest Recreation, returning in 1966 and worked for a firm of land use consultants. Jobs included landscaping the aluminium works at Holyhead. By 1970 I had formed my own consultancy, specialising in small-scale forestry, countryside recreation and tourism.
The 1974 financial crisis almost sank the firm I was by then running with my wife Anne. We battened down the lifestyle, and embraced “self sufficiency” with bees, a veg. patch and even lambs in our small terrace garden.
In 1980 we bought a 63-acre wood in the Sussex High Weald, and for the next thirty years turned it into an award-winning tourist attraction and education centre, where multi-purpose forestry held it all together. We were indeed blessed to be able to build our own house, work from home, run our own business in a worthwhile field, and be an exemplar of enlightened land management.
When Anne and I retired we thought we should put our strange life on record, and Thirty Years in Wilderness Wood (link: http://www.troubador.co.uk/book_info.asp?bookid=3506) was published last autumn. Bangor rightly gets a mention within its pages, representing four very influencing years of my career. Any Old Bangorians can contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org