A day in the life of...a Training Area Operative

Tina Bath has spent most of her life living and working in the area around Yoxter Camp in the South West, which is nestled in the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in Somerset, some 8km north of the Cheddar Gorge. Here she worked as a Countryside Warden for 15 years before joining Landmarc as a part time Training Area Operative (TAO) in 2013. 



“Before l was employed by Landmarc, l was contracted to catch moles on the range floor”, says Tina. “Since being employed l have continued to give guidance on mole catching at other Landmarc managed sites. Talk about doing yourself out of a job”, she laughs. 
 
“Besides mole catching, as one of X Training Area Operatives based at the Camp, I have a busy and varied role supporting our Armed Forces who arrive there to train. The area is used for small arms and dry training as well as helicopter training and non-tracked vehicles and I undertake all the usual tasks associated with running a live range. This includes checking the danger area, putting up the nine flags and handing over and taking back the range. I also make and repair the targets and check that the equipment and machinery are in good working order. This includes the Hythe target frames, the truck, the ride-on mower and the brushcutter.

“There is also plenty of grass cutting to keep on top of at the moment, as well as catching up on timber treatment, cleaning and painting the range boundary marker poles, replacing warning signs, along with other general range maintenance and recording. 

“Over the years I have worked with and met some great people, which includes local landowners and organisations who manage the surrounding farms. When the TAO job was advertised l felt l was well placed for the role having had previous training in some of the necessary requirements and good communication skills.
 
There’s nothing like a good hedge!

“Outside of Landmarc, I’ve continued with some of my self-employed work, which includes hedge laying, dry stone walling, lime mortar work and training. I enjoy it so much that I enrolled on a course at the Wrington and Burrington Hedging Society - one of the oldest in the country. As a result, l regularly take part in competitions and have now been the National Hedge Laying Society Ladies champion four times and once came second against 14 men! I have also attended both Highgrove and Sandringham Estates as an invited competitor and trainer at HRH Prince Charles Hedge Laying events.
 
“This August l will have been working for Landmarc for five years. My job with Landmarc is rewarding - l have the trust to get on with my work and juggle my hours to meet the requirements. The option of working flexible days and hours works well for us both. 
 
The biggest challenge
 
“With most jobs that entail a lot of outdoor work the weather can sometimes be challenging. Yoxter Range sits roughly 800ft above sea level and we are on average three degrees colder than the rest of Somerset. It’s hard to believe we were cut off with deep snow drifts only a few months ago. The hills also draw in their fair share of rain and we can have days of fog, although that usually arrives on live firing weekends! Coupled with the dips and hollows on the Dry Training Area it can make the dark early mornings and late afternoon flag runs very interesting at times.
 
There’s nothing as rewarding as a happy customer 
 
“The most rewarding part of my job is when the customer goes away happy and appreciates the work that we do. It’s so much better to end the day with a thank you. I enjoy working for a good employer like Landmarc – I believe they treat their staff fairly and are good listeners.”
 
Tina talked about her life as a hedgelayer in a recent edition of Country Life magazine. Read the online version here 

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