How tree surgeon Dave now helps nurture local children at nursery

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A former tree surgeon has turned over a new leaf by retaining to become a childcare assistant at a local nursery.

Dave Berrisford made a root and branch change to his working life - and is now encouraging others to do the same.

Dave, who is in his late forties, worked as a qualified tree surgeon in South East England for 25 years, but when his family circumstances changed he moved to Northern Ireland and became a house husband and carer of his children to allow his wife to return to work.

Once his children reached school age, Dave decided that it was time to return to education and he completed Essential Skils, Literacy and ICT courses at Northern Regional College.

Having enjoyed his time at college as well as looking after his young family he wanted to explore working with children as a full-time vocation.

He completed his Level 2 Diploma in Children’s Care Learning and Development course at West Bann Development Centre in Coleraine and then the Level 3 Children’s Care Learning and Development course at NRC’s Ballymoney campus.

Dave said: “I am really glad that I decided to take one of the biggest steps of my life and change my career path, it wasn’t an easy decision but one I’m glad I made – tree surgeon’s is a young man’s game so it was the right time.

“The childcare course was challenging but also very rewarding and enjoyable, in particular I was impressed by the quality of teaching and learning by the tutors.

“I got the greatest opportunity to work in Kylemore Nursery School and gained temporary employment in Ballysally Nursery to cover maternity leave.

“At both of these work placements I have found that my skills attained from the course as well as being a qualified tree surgeon were transferrable in that as a nursery school assistant as I was able to teach the children to zip line, tree climb as well as explain the age of tree by the rings.

“Both the students and myself found this very enjoyable. I would like to thank both nursery placements and College for the invaluable help, guidance and encouragement I was given,” added Dave.

Dave is currently working as temporary special needs assistant at Ballysally Nursery and hopes to gain full-time employment in a local nursery school some time soon.

The NRC course aims to increase the knowledge, skills and understanding of candidates to enable them to organise and implement quality provision for young children and support their families.

An important aspect of the childcare courses is that students are able to apply theory to practice through work placements.

For further information on Northern Regional College’s part-time portfolio of courses, including childcare, visit the college website

You can also contact the central admissions team on 028 7034 0115.