head and shoulders

Forestry graduate bags best dissertation award

A graduate from Bedfordshire has been recognised with an esteemed industry accolade. 

James William Burnett, 30, won Tilhill’s 2020 award for ‘best dissertation’ while studying for his BSc (Hons) Forestry and Woodland Management course at the University of Cumbria. A mature student, James worked as a tree surgeon for 10 years before going to university.  

The award was presented to James via an online public webinar by Stuart Pearson, Tilhill’s North and Central England Regional Manager.  

Tilhill awarded James with a specially carved wooden trophy in the shape of an acorn along with £250 prize money which was virtually gifted by Stuart, who is also a past student of the National School of Forestry.  

Upon presenting the award, Stuart commented: “James’ dissertation clearly demonstrates the broader thinking and skills required in a modern forester.  

“The role trees and timber will play in all our futures is now finally being recognised by the politicians and public alike, it is therefore a great time to be coming into forestry as a career and I wish James well for the future.” 

Upon receiving the award, James said: “It feels brilliant! I feel really proud to have been given this recognition by a company as renowned as Tilhill.  

“Winning this award has given me lots of confidence as I take my next steps after graduation. Completing my course and dissertation was a challenge so being awarded this prize really lets me see the benefits of being challenged and supported in this way.” 

Andrew Leslie, Senior Lecturer at National School of Forestry opened the online awards presentation in celebration of James’ award: “It is great that he has won this prize. James arrived at The National School of Forestry just a year ago after studying a foundation degree in arboriculture and urban forestry but then he saw the light and saw that forest management would be a more exciting choice than arboriculture which I think is a great decision.  

“He’s done very well this year and should be very proud of himself.” 

Tilhill has a long association with the University of Cumbria as many of its past and present employees have studied there.  

The university’s location is ideal for studying forests and woodlands and its degree course has a strong professional focus.  

From the university’s Lake District campus students have access to ancient woodlands, mixed woodlands and plantations. The increasing environmental, social and economic importance of forests leads to exciting opportunities for graduates worldwide. 

As part of the company’s work to strengthen links with students, Tilhill offers awards to top performing forestry students at leading universities which offer degrees in forestry related subjects. The company also runs a popular graduate placement scheme. 

Watch the online presentation: https://youtu.be/TZCJpo6rFb4 

If James’ story has inspired any budding foresters, there are still has places available for anyone looking to start a course in September. If you still need to apply, have changed your mind about the course you’ve chosen or are looking for a career change, the university’s Clearing team can help on 0808 178 733 and online at www.cumbria.ac.uk/clearing. 


Pictured: James William Burnett

James William Burnett with award

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