The man who has tended to the land and animals under the Box Moor Trust for 23 years is retiring.
Phil Pennington will depart from the trust tomorrow (Thursday) and is looking forward to building his own home and looking after his sheep flock in over the border in Bedfordshire.
Phil was the first-ever estate manager to be appointed under the trust - a position he came to from a teaching job in Blackpool. There he taught personal, social and health education, part of which saw him introduce children to the workings of a small farm.
Fittingly, one of his first tasks with the trust was to set up an educational programme. Today, the trust, with its headquarters in London Road, welcomes a class full of children every day during the summer months and also invites in youth groups and clubs.
Phil, 65, said: “It is important to encourage youngsters to appreciate the countryside and appreciate what the trust does. It gives them a different view other than the urban.”
Since he joined the organisation back in 1992, the trust has almost doubled the amount of land it manages from 250 acres to nearly 500.
It is important to encourage youngsters to appreciate the countryside and appreciate what the trust does. It gives them a different view other than the urbanPhil Pennington
“We have done an awful lot of environmental work, creating environments and habitats and maintaining them,” said Phil.
The staff numbers in the office have also increased from four to 12, and the sheep have boomed too - at one stage the trust had one of the largest flocks of rare Norfolk Horn sheep.
Phil said: “I’ve enjoyed getting up in the morning, coming to work and not knowing how the day is going to pan out. There are always challenges.”
Taking over from Phil is Peter Samson, who has moved to the area from Dorsett. He previously worked for the National Trust on a large estate called Kingston Lacy.
He said: “It is almost as if someone thought about me and wrote a job description especially for me. It is just perfect for me.”