A 19-year-old Shropshire college student has beaten 140 other candidates from across the country to obtain the coveted position of Trainee National Park Ranger for Northumberland National Park.
Josh Higgins, from Wem, puts his success entirely down to completing the two-year National Diploma in Countryside Management course at Walford and North Shropshire College.
The course offers a mixture of academic and practical elements based on genuine case studies and real life Countryside Management situations, designed to equip students with the skills and knowledge necessary to obtain work in the environmental sector.
Josh says, “This course has been absolutely brilliant. I’d recommend it to anyone. The tutors have been wonderful. They’re always there to help whenever you need them.
“I did a year of AS levels before coming on this course but soon discovered they weren’t for me. In order to do the work I want to do, I need real practical experience working and learning outdoors and this course has given me that. Also the academic modules were all based around things I enjoy and were all relevant to the type of career I had in mind.
“Thanks to this course I’ve had eight weeks’ work experience, with three different National Parks and I’ve obtained seven practical professional qualifications, including use of a chainsaw and brushcutters. These extra qualifications are really important for the career I want to pursue.
“Now I’ve obtained this position and it’s all down to this course and the contacts I’ve made through it and the lecturers. I’ll be sad to leave but I couldn’t have wished for a better introduction to the career of my dreams."
Course tutor Paul O’Hagan said: “All the staff are delighted with Josh’s achievement which is a real testament not only to Josh’s effort and commitment but also to the range of challenges that he’s undertaken on this course that have perfectly prepared him for exactly this type of work.”
Northumberland National Park covers over 1,000 square kilometres of unspoilt uplands from Hadrian’s Wall northwards to the Cheviot Hills on the Scottish border. It is much loved by walkers and cyclists for its challenges, solitude and wide horizons with only the sounds of nature for company.
Cycle routes abound and Bradley Wiggins even names High Knowes, Alnham, in the Cheviots ,as one of his top ten British cycle climbs.
There is still time to apply for Countryside Management courses at Walford and North Shropshire College. Visit www.wnsc.ac.uk or telephone 01939 262100.