FORESTERS from the Forestry Commission were honoured for their long-term contributions to local forestry excellence, at Devon County Show.

Nick Best and Pete Verney received their long service awards from Sir John Cave, president of the Devon County Agricultural Association.

The award recognises employees with more than 30 years' service in Devon's agricultural, horticultural and forestry fields.

Nick Best joined the Forestry Commission in September 1974. His first posting was as forester at Halwill Forest where he was part of a team of 40. He spent six years there, before completing a six-year 'specialist tour of duty' in forest research. He then returned to his original patch at Halwill as harvesting forester and five years later was promoted to head forester in the Somerset and South Devon District.

Since 2001, Nick has been operations manager with overall responsibility for all forest management issues across Devon as well as in Cornwall and Somerset.

Working for the Forestry Commission is a family affair for Pete Verney whose father, also Pete Verney, worked for the organisation for more than 40 years.

Pete joined the commission in 1964 as a forest worker. After leaving for a few years to work in agriculture he rejoined the commission at Haldon Forest near Exeter in 1974.

He spent 15 years working as a chainsaw operator. He then worked for a few years on a commission contract with the Highways Agency to plant and maintain trees alongside major roads such as the A38, before returning to the woods covering both Haldon and Dartmoor forests as work supervisor.

In 1999 Pete moved full time to Dartmoor in his supervisory role before getting his 'dream job' as area forester for Dartmoor and Plym, a role he had until 2009, when he took partial retirement.