Award remembers a remarkable forester

by | Jun 8, 2014 | Featured Slider, Latest, News

A remarkable forester who managed the Froyle Estate woodlands in Hampshire for nearly 60 years until his death aged 88 has been honoured by the Royal Forestry Society (RFS).

Walter Start, who lived in Lower Froyle, Alton, had also been involved in the management of forestry at Herriard Park and Rotherfield Park, and had served on numerous national and regional forestry committees, winning awards for his work both on the Froyle Estate and at Rotherfield Park.

The RFS Long Service Award had been approved before Walter’s death and was awarded posthumously to his family by RFS Southern Divisional immediate past Chairman Sir James Scott, whose woods Walter had also worked on in Rotherfield Park.
Sir James Scott said: ‘”Walter Start looked after the woods at Rotherfield for more than 30 years. I looked forward to his weekly visits for his good company and the opportunity to learn from his wisdom and experience.

“Among many high points of his tenure I remember particularly the estate winning the Duke of Cornwall’s award, presented by the Prince of Wales at the Royal Show in 1995 – all thanks to Walter.”

Crispin Mahony of Savills, the managing agent for the Froyle Estate added: “Walter was a remarkable forester respected and liked by all in the industry. In conjunction with Joan Bootle-Wilbraham who bought the Estate in 1960 their combined passion for forestry created a lasting legacy for the current generation who own the estate and the wider community. ”

Walter was the son of a stonemason who had moved into forestry after being demobbed from the Army after WWII, working first for the Forestry Commission.

In 1983 he received an MBE for services to forestry and, in 2003, two-and-a-quarter acres of oaks, known as Walter’s Wood, was planted by Woodland Heritage on the Froyle Estate to mark 50 years of service. He had been intending to retire, aged 89, on the 60th anniversary of joining the estate on 26 November 2013, but sadly died in November 2012.

During his time at Froyle he had worked closely with owner Mrs SJ Bootle-Wilbraham and latterly with trustees running the estate and there is at least one wood he planted, thinned, clear felled and planted again! His pride in his work shines through in a book Tales from the Old Codger he wrote with Fiona Taylor in which he details his pride in producing the veneer quality oak.

In it he also remembers his childhood in Otterton, Devon; his time in the Army with anti aircraft units and the Parachute regiment; his happy life with wife Mavis and his children Roger, Grenville and four grandchildren. Copies of the book are available at £5 from his son Roger Hayman-Start at Lane End House, Old Farnham Lane, Farnham, Surrey. GU9 8JU. (07941 545977)