Zetland forestry workers mark 80 years of service

From left, Shaun Purkiss-McEndoo and Richard Teasdale.

Two long-standing members of the forestry team of Zetland Estates have marked more than 80 years of service.

Shaun Purkiss-McEndoo and Richard Teasdale were acknowledged by the estate for their careers of woodland management.

Born and bred in Richmondshire, Shaun and Richard, now both aged 58, began working for Zetland Estates, which has land in and around Richmond, in the summers of 1979 and 1980 respectively, joining the estate team as general woodmen.

At that time, the forestry team still used bill hooks and axes, with only one very heavy chainsaw between the five of them.

Shaun, now head forester, who has used his skills extensively over the years, came up with the idea to use timber from the estate for a biomass heating solution installed 15 years ago.

The estate is now producing timber again from the first area cleared back in 2006.

Over 100 hectares of new woodland have been created on the estate, testament to Shaun’s hard work and dedication over the last 40 years.

Silver Hill, the largest at 47 hectares, was planted in 2020 and is made up of conifer trees. As a result, these projects have raised around 23,000 tonnes of carbon credits.

Throughout his career on the estate, Shaun has worked on a range of large and notable projects, including felling an estate Oaktree for the rebuild of York Minster in 1985.

Since joining the estate in 1980, Richard, a rider of motorbikes in his younger days and an avid fan of F1 and Ferrari cars, has worked in or around every inch of the estate’s woods over the years, often on his own.

Richard has continued to develop his knowledge of forestry over the years and remains up to date with the latest news and developments.

Originally using a Fordson Major, which had no cab or suspension on the seat, Richard and the team now use a state-of-the-art Red Blowing trailer Valtra tractor to deliver and blow in the estate woodchip. Over the last 15 years, they have delivered and blown in almost 100% of the estate’s woodchip.

More recently, the forestry team have been part of the community woodland project, Rufus Woods, to mark the 950th celebrations of Richmond, which has seen residents born in 1921 and every decade in between plant a tree at Rufus Woods.

The woods, named after Alan Rufus, Lord Richemont of Upper Normandy, who commissioned the castle in 1071, consists of 950 trees ranging from oaks to wild cherry trees.

Just south of the old racecourse in Richmond, the hectare site is looking to be the start of a fantastic project which will welcome visitors to relax, play and learn whilst also creating a hub for native English trees and wildlife.

Following an initial successful sponsorship program of the first 300 trees, the Rufus Woods organisers are now appealing for more sponsors which will help towards the upkeep and maintenance of the woodland area.

As well as managing the estate’s forestry, firewood and biomass fuel businesses, throughout the years Shaun and Richard have helped lost walkers, committed to community projects, and regularly engage with the public about the importance of their work, all while enjoying the occasional bacon butty.

Shaun said: “I still very much enjoy my work and never stop learning. We’ve had some fantastic work colleagues on the Estate and as we have moved in the last 20 years to a more contractor based Forestry department, we have found some loyal and professional businesses to carry out our operations”.

For both men, it has been their only employment in their lifetime, and during each of their 40 years’ service the two foresters have worked for three generations of the Dundas family.

Shaun said: “I consider myself very lucky to have walked into a life of work on Zetland Estates, they continue to be a pleasure to work for.

“Forestry and working outdoors, when you tell people that’s your job 99 per cent of the time they wish they could be doing it — that says it all.”