As part of our regular series of profiles on the region’s Young Farmers’ Club members, 24-year-old HENRY BALLS talks about his career among the Norfolk treetops.
My parents and grandparents have run the family business of Hevingham Fishing Lakes and Holiday Park for over 50 years, which is where my passion for working outdoors began.
When I left school, I studied agricultural engineering at Easton College and then I went on to work for Ben Burgess in Norwich and also Paul Gunther Contracting.
My time at home has always been spent helping maintain the lakes and campsite. I did lots of grass cutting as well as utilising my engineering training with the servicing and repair of the tractors and machinery, and eventually started helping with tree work.
My father taught me how to fell trees as part of our regular maintenance programme at the lakes and that is where my interest in becoming a tree surgeon originated. I did a tree surgery training course at Easton and Otley College and then went on to work for a sub-contractor where I gained experience of dealing with trees and branches affecting power lines.
At the end of last year, I decided to start my own tree surgery business. I am still doing occasional tractor work for Buck Contracting, which helps pay the bills while my business is getting established.
My day usually starts at about 6am to give me time to get to where my next job is which could be anywhere in Norfolk. A typical day covers all aspects of tree work, from thinning and pruning to tree removal.
I have a couple of tree surgery friends who give me a hand with the big jobs by helping me on the ground clearing the deck. For example, recently five big ash trees had to come down for safety reasons, two of them were very challenging as they were over hanging the highway.
I enjoy the variety the job offers, as I am always somewhere different, no two jobs the same. One day I could be pruning small fruit trees and the next day I’m removing a 90ft tree. I love being outside. The views from the top of the trees are amazing. In the years to come I would like to have a steady business with one or two members of staff.
Through Young Farmers I have gained a lot of lifetime friends. You also get to know a lot of people for work too – it is absolutely brilliant. We have so much fun and as members we develop lots of skills and knowledge which can be very usefully transferred to any work situation. I would recommend it to anyone.
Name: Henry Balls.
Occupation: Tree surgeon and part-time contractor.
YFC club: North Walsham.
How long have you been a YFC member? 7 years.
• North Walsham YFC meets at Rossi’s on Tungate Road on Tuesday evenings. For more details about Norfolk Young Farmers contact the county office on 01603 731307.