Apprentice to bring countryside into city

Willow Large-Lee RESIZEDThis country girl is heading to the city to make it a bit more rural!

Willow Large-Lee is the new apprentice countryside manager who will be playing a crucial part in creating a community park for Plymouth at Derriford.

The 18-year-old who studied Countryside Management at Bicton College, which is part of the Cornwall College Group, has now joined the Council and will be helping shape the park, which will have a working farm as well as an environmental education hub on the land which covers 140 hectares.

She said: “I’m really looking forward to getting stuck in as it’s such an exciting project. I know there will be a lot to do and a lot to take in, but it’s an incredible opportunity.”

Willow has had a bit of a head start as her family run a forestry business, Courage Copse Creatives in North Devon and she has always been keen on the outdoor life. She said: “There’s a picture of me when I was five or six being surrounded by sheep – I was the same height – and even then I told my parents: I want to do this.”

Willow will be on a level 4 apprenticeship which will prepare her for life as a countryside manager. She is very new to Plymouth.

Her interview was the first visit, and she was pleasantly surprised at how much green space and parks there are here. She added: “I’m looking forward to meeting people who live around here and getting them fired up about this park.
Duchy College is part of the Cornwall College Group and has teamed up with the Council to create a ‘Derriford Environmental Education Hub’ in the community park planned for the north of the city.

Cabinet Member for Strategic Infrastructure and Planning, Councillor Mark Coker said: “We would like to welcome Willow to Plymouth and to this project, which we hope will inspire other young people to think about learning valuable skills and an appreciation of our incredible environment.

Plans for Derriford Community Park have been in the pipeline since 2008 when local people were asked what they would like to see within the proposed park.

Earlier this year, a memorandum of agreement was signed by the college and the council to develop ideas ahead of submitting bids for funding for a 10 year programme.

As well as protecting the last working farm in Plymouth, the plans could see up to 200 full and part time students studying courses including horticulture, countryside management, animal care as well as Royal Horticultural Society programmes in practical horticulture, plant growth, propagation and garden design.

Other ideas being developed include over 15 kilometres of new footpaths and cycle routes for walkers, joggers and cyclists; new habitats to compliment the two existing Local Nature Reserves, community garden and orchard for growing food for the farm shop and café.