Training for reed and sedge cutters

What do a mother-of-four, a chorister, a rugby player, an ornithologist and a catering manager have in common? The answer is that they are all training to be reed and sedge cutters in the Broads.

What do a mother-of-four, a chorister, a rugby player, an ornithologist and a catering manager have in common?

The answer is that they are all training to be reed and sedge cutters in the Broads.

The five are receiving Heritage Lottery-funded training in countryside skills to equip them to become commercial reed and sedge cutters.

They are the second and last batch of apprentices to undergo the 18- month training organised by the Broads Authority to keep reed and sedge cutting skills alive.


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James Allchurch, 19, from Ormesby St Michael, has been volunteering for the RSPB, Natural England and Red Cross during a gap year since his A-levels.

A keen birdwatcher and walker, he has been a volunteer warden for the Little Tern colonies at Great Yarmouth and Winterton and has done practical conservation work.

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He said: “I've always been interested in wildlife, ecology and conservation issues.

“I saw the job advertised first time round, but at that time I was studying for my A-levels.”

Graeme Hewitt, 37, from Ludham, worked in forestry and horticulture on the Woodbastwick Estate until he was 30. He then took a career change into catering and moved into Norwich, becoming a catering manager.

Ranworth born and bred, Graeme, who has a six-month-old daughter, said: “I wanted to give her the same sort of upbringing and opportunities I had. I wanted to go back and live and work in the countryside.

“The bursary training is a really good scheme because it trains

you in a wide range of countryside skills.”

Kathryn Ingham, 34, who has four children aged from one to 10 and lives at Little Plumstead, has worked for the last 12 years in day services at Little Plumstead Hospital.

She learned to sail this year at Horning Sailing Club, loves walking in the Broads and is trained in reflexology and Indian head massage.

A childhood visit to the How Hill Study Centre near Ludham, where she met her first reed and sedge cutter at the age of 10, left a lasting impression on her and she jumped at the chance to become a commercial reed and sedge cutter herself.

Tom Colley, 19, who was raised at Hickling but moved from Cambridgeshire to live with his grandparents at Ludham, said his inspiration had been his next-door neighbour, reed and sedge cutter Billy Nichols.

“I have wanted to work on the Broads since I was six,” he said.

For the past year he has volun-teered for the Broads Authority four days a week in fen management to gain experience. He is also a member of Ludham Church choir.

Another participant in the training project, Tom Bennett, 26, from Tunstead, is a rugby player who ran a business growing and supplying organic vegetables.

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