The lavish Tewkesbury Park Hotel in Gloucestershire opened its doors to the entirety of Arbtech in February, and over the course of the next three days, the team enjoyed insightful talks, luxury meals, flowing drinks, engaging activities and all the resort hotel had to offer including a gym, swimming pool, tennis and squash courts, golf course, scenic walks and beautiful accommodation as part of the first-ever ArbCon.

Across the Duke of Gloucester and Earl of Warwick rooms and the Cotswolds and Roses suites, Arbtechers were given the opportunity to stage countless talks on arboriculture, ecology and factors affecting both personal and professional growth, such as fitness, nutrition and mental wellbeing. The evenings then allowed for everyone to mingle and party into the night together, spurred on by casino games, a caricaturist, a DJ, a selfie mirror and numerous activities designed to integrate multiple players.

Below, we’ve provided a breakdown of how ArbCon 2024 played out:

ArbCon 2024 in Summary


Upon arrival to the hotel grounds on Friday morning, all Arbtechers were encouraged to welcome one another to the conference while enjoying a breakfast of tea, coffee and pastries. ArbCon was then formally underway with an introductory speech from company CEO Robert Oates and a surprise motivational talk from British gold medal-winning Olympic rower Ben Hunt-Davis MBE.

From the overview of the company over the last 12 months and a strategy looking forward to the next 12 months provided by Robert and a step-by-step analysis of Ben’s gold-winning regatta, everyone was left inspired and eager for the rest of the conference. After a lunch break, the first set of talks and training sessions could begin across the different meeting rooms of Tewkesbury Park.

“While I was in the GB rowing team, we challenged ourselves to make sure that everything that we did was focused on making the boat go faster. We tried to ensure that every conversation, decision, action and behaviour was aligned to give us more boat speed – all 70 of us were clear on what we were trying to do and why we were trying to do it.

At ArbCon, Rob was very clear on exactly what Arbtech is trying to do and why they’re trying to do it.

His explanation of why you need to stay focused and the impact of challenging everything you do was clear and excellent.

I have no doubt from what I heard and who I chatted to that 2024 will be another outstanding year for Arbtech.”

Ben Hunt-Davis, Olympic Gold Medal-Winning Rower and Author of ‘Will It Make The Boat Go Faster?’
Olympic rower Ben Hunt-Davis speaking to Arbtech at ArbCon 2024

Over Friday afternoon, the talks covered arboricultural surveys from Emily Kempson, bat call analysis from Merry Anderson, bats in trees from Matt Edwards and Mel Reid, botany from Fay Brotherhood, computer-aided design (CAD) from Thomas Parkinson, tree preservation orders (TPOs) from Phil Gower, S3 tree surveys and construction from Matt Middle, and stage two ecology surveys from Nicole Gullan.

Workshops were also conducted on BERS interns by James Fielding and Nicole Gullan, mammals by Katy Perry, and dealing with clients and mentoring by Nicole Gullan, as well as a Q&A session on fitness and nutrition from Arbtech CEO Robert Oates. All talks and workshops coincided with the senior arboricultural and senior ecological team meetings, and a soil laboratory in the breakout room run by Chris Poplett that allowed anyone to come in and analyse different types of natural materials under a microscope.

“A rare chance for me to meet up with the Arbtech family and talk about bats – a perfect social for me!

Huge thanks to everyone who made ArbCon 2024 happen and for choosing a great location. I have come away inspired and with some great new ideas to take forward with the eco team.

I can also now say I had lunch with an Olympic gold medallist!”

Merry Anderson, Consultant Ecologist at Arbtech
Merry Anderson's talk about bat call analysis at ArbCon 2024

“The first ArbCon was the epitome of the cycle of continual improvement model that we’ve been working on over the past four or five years as part of our team-led annual review of the company, in which we put forward our ideas and Rob helps our development.

Arbtech demonstrates a real team-driven desire to forge new paths and create new ways of doing things whilst building on our technical competencies, and ArbCon marked a commitment to growth and being the best in our field.

It was invaluable listening to Rob’s talk on business strategy to put it all into perspective and consider how we can use our creativity to fit technical excellence into our USP of speed.

Not only was it a great learning experience, but it is always amazing to catch up with each other. Rob has a knack for bringing awesome people together, all of whom I really like. Never mind the fancy food and the trips away…For me, it is getting to hang out with all those awesome people that make socials at Arbtech so amazing!”

Fay Brotherhood, Consultant Ecologist at Arbtech
A talk on botany from Arbtech's Fay Brotherhood at ArbCon 2024

“ArbCon was a great experience to bring all of Arbtech’s teams together and understand how all individual sectors within the company function and crossover.

Admittedly, I utilised the weekend to focus on ecology and see how the sector is changing, particularly on the new bat guidance and BNG. Having been here five years, it is easy to fall into a production line mentality of just churning out reports. Furthermore, being a hybrid, I can’t always focus completely on arb and eco, but ArbCon enabled us to bring everyone’s knowledge together.

I feel that Nat’s talk on bats was especially important to new starters for understanding each process and advising clients. Jona’s talk was thought-provoking and will help greatly on how best to address pushback from LPAs. Craig’s talk was very insightful on aspects of BNG and problems which may arise, particularly on the importance of informing clients if their projects are not going to be financially viable based on what is identified at the PEA stage.

It’s always great to have Rob provide a talk. They are so important on what is expected of us as a collective, where we are currently at, our strategy, and the direction of the company.

I was particularly impressed in head office’s engagement towards the ecology sector, how we can adapt as a company based on new guidelines, and how we can implement them into our existing processes. Head office asked some great questions during Craig’s talk on BNG.

I am aware that I haven’t been as present in staff socials due to family life with the arrival of two kids, so it was great to have the opportunity to meet new faces for the first time. A weak area of mine is public speaking, but I really appreciate the opportunity to do a talk on updated guidelines – an area which I would like to greatly improve upon. The gaming evening was my favourite – the casual aspect with competitive fun went really well.”

Matt Edwards, Senior Arboriculturist at Arbtech

“The first ever ArbCon was an amazing weekend.

We had internal talks and workshops from our ecologists and arboriculturists, external speakers such as Richard Crompton and Duncan Slater, social events such as a casino night and games nights, spa treatments, and company reviews.

My personal favourite element of the event, however, was getting to spend time with my colleagues. A largely work-from-home company with ever-expanding staff numbers, it was awesome getting to know my team better.

I’m sure ArbCon ‘25 is going to be bigger and better!”

Mel Reid, Senior Ecologist at Arbtech
Arbtech surveyors Matt Edwards and Mel Reid talking about bats at ArbCon 2024

“ArbCon was a phenomenal opportunity to connect with colleagues across the country and exchange ideas with internal and external speakers. I came out of the conference buzzing with enthusiasm and new ideas to implement into my own work.

In particular, external speakers Richard Crompton and Sean Shereston both gave amazing talks that have inspired several business ideas we are looking at implementing.

My own talk was a great opportunity to ensure our new intern programme hits the ground running and that all my colleagues are aware of how to participate in it.”

James Fielding, Consultant Ecologist at Arbtech
James Fielding of Arbtech speaking about BERS interns at ArbCon 2024

“For me, it was especially great to get to spend time with everyone in a professional capacity.

While the social element to these events is good, when we do socials that are solely designed for socialising, we lose an opportunity to learn from one another. The company has such a wealth of knowledge due to its vast selection of staff who all specialise in given subject areas, so to be at an event where it’s acceptable to ‘talk shop’ and in doing so get to learn from each other about these things is endlessly valuable.

If I take someone like Dean Meadows, for example, who is just an encyclopaedia of information when it comes to tree risk and dysfunction (among many other things), I always feel like it’s a crime to be in the same place as him but not be able to talk about work or trees because – for me – it’s my opportunity to capitalise on learning from him (and everyone else).”

Phil Gower, Consultant Arboriculturist at Arbtech
Arbtech's Phil Gower covering tree preservation orders (TPOs) at ArbCon 2024

“It was a huge honour to be asked to speak to my colleagues at the inaugural ArbCon set in the spectacular grounds of Tewkesbury Park.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the other talks across the weekend, both internal and external. A highlight was Rob’s strategy talk, where he shared the decisions underpinning Arbtech’s continued success and plans for future growth and development. Of the external talks, Richard Crompton’s was incredibly inspiring, and the team have not stopped talking about it since.

Aside from the education, it was great to spend time with my colleagues. Friendships were made and strengthened, misunderstandings sorted out, inspiration overload…

Truly an incredible weekend and unrivalled by any other events in the arboriculture and ecology sectors.”

Nicole Gullan, Senior Ecologist at Arbtech
Nicole Gullan presenting at ArbCon 2024

“ArbCon was filled with the perfect balance of social camaraderie and professional growth.

The opportunity to create a workshop/seminar focused solely on AutoCAD was ideal to provide demonstrations on how best to utilise the software and overcome common issues. This included valuable tips and tricks to support the arb team with their workflow and projects.

Also, ArbCon provided the chance for me to delve into other sectors, particularly exploring the technical aspects of arboriculture with team arb, expanding my understanding and enhancing my ability to support the team effectively.

Alongside the professional gains, the social aspect was always going to be top-tier. The highlight for me? Games night, where friendly competition sprinkled with champagne created a recipe for good fun!

Bring on ArbCon ’25!”

Thomas Parkinson, CAD Technician at Arbtech
CAD technician Thomas Parkinson talking the team through his work at ArbCon 2024

With the first day coming to a close, everyone was given a short break for them to get ready for the night ahead. Reconvening in the Cotswolds Suite, the team were presented with a three-course meal consisting of delectable starters, mains and desserts alongside a bottomless offering of champagne.

Entertainment for the evening included a selfie mirror and props, a DJ and dancefloor area, and a pop-up casino night. Tewkesbury Park’s selection of function rooms allowed everyone to mingle in various areas, but for Friday night particularly, the Cotswolds Suite was the focal point, as the team excitedly indulged in blackjack, poker and roulette into the night.

Arbtech's Shaun Rowe enjoying casino night at ArbCon 2024


Kicking off with a talk on bats from Natalie Evans, a talk on BS5837 tree surveys from Matt Middle and a talk on tree risk assessments from Dean Meadows, day two of ArbCon was in full flow. After lunch, Scott Warren held a training session aimed at the financial administrators, Craig Williams outlined biodiversity net gain (BNG) to the head office team, Jonathan Stuttard delved into herpetofauna and Dean Meadows continued his talk from earlier with a look at the key principles of tree risk management.

Due to the spreading interest in Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) across the company, a session in one of the squash courts was staged before lunch. A large number of Arbtechers attended, with guidance from competitive Brazilian jiu-jitsu athlete and Arbtech CEO Robert Oates and BJJ blackbelt and marketing manager Andy Ward. At the same time, anyone not attending the BJJ session had the opportunity to conduct 1-on-1 reviews, enjoy spa treatments, discuss technical factors related to work or indulge in the hotel’s facilities, such as the swimming pool, sauna, jacuzzi, gym and tennis courts.

The team at Arbtech practicing Brazilian jiu-jitsu together at ArbCon 2024

“I loved being able to share some of my experience with the whole team, and in turn absorb some of the knowledge and expertise from my colleagues and external speakers.

It just so happened that the day I gave my talk was the 10-year anniversary of being offered the job at Arbtech, so it was really amazing to share that with our ever-growing team of ecologists.

The venue was really beautiful, and for someone who does not take well to being stuck indoors, being able to look out of the window and see spectacular views was a real boost. We even got some sunshine!

The highlight for me was Richard Crompton – I could listen to that guy tell bat stories all day long!”

Natalie Evans, Principal Ecologist and Bat Licence Lead at Arbtech
Arbtech ecologist Natalie Evans at ArbCon 2024

“ArbCon was a resounding success!

The internal and external talks provided great discussion among the team and inspired valuable insights.

The highlight of the event was the opportunity for all of us to be in one place, building on our strong relationships and reinforcing Arbtech’s unique company culture.”

Dean Meadows, Principal Arboriculturist and Tree Risk Lead at Arbtech
Dean Meadows analysing a tree with the Arbtech arboriculture team

“To be amongst all my colleagues and not just in a social capacity was a great opportunity.

Within the beautiful grounds of Tewkesbury Park, we could share ideas, train one another, and reach out to people we may not have had the privilege of having one-on-one time with before.

Pushed out of my comfort zone to deliver talks alongside my very confident and capable peers who also delivered incredible talks and being in the presence of Olympians and bat legends – what a weekend!”

Katy Perry, Senior Ecologist at Arbtech
Katy Perry presenting sat down at ArbCon 2024

“It was excellent to see the first ArbCon materialise and exceed expectations.

Being a principal ecologist at Arbtech, I was excited for the opportunity to present to the ecology team in its entirety and socialise for an entire weekend.

I feel that we made significant technical gains whilst elevating team cohesion to an all-time high.

Can’t wait to build on the experience at Arbcon 2025!”

Jonathan Stuttard, Principal Ecologist and Herpetofauna Lead at Arbtech
Jonathan Stuttard explaining herpetofauna at ArbCon 2024

“With biodiversity net gain (BNG) becoming mandatory immediately after ArbCon, speaking at the conference about the subject as a major interest of mine and what to look out for was a privilege and hopefully strengthened the team’s understanding.

The other talks were all fantastic, but I especially enjoyed Matt and Mel’s talk about bat roosts in trees.”

Craig Williams, Principal Ecologist and BNG Lead at Arbtech
Craig Williams explaining BNG at ArbCon 2024

From early into the evening, a vast array of games and activities were available in the Roses Suite, such as giant Jenga blocks, a giant Scalextric set, giant snakes and ladders, an air hockey table, a pool table and a Formula 1 simulator. A game van was also situated outside with a wide range of multiplayer games, giving the team a chance to go toe-to-toe in various virtual arenas.

All of the activities were enjoyed by the team, but the Formula 1 simulator was a standout fan favourite, with countless Arbtechers attempting to finish top. Finance manager Scott Warren and graduate ecologist Shaun Rowe spent time in top place, but two solid efforts from consultant ecologist George Collier-Smith saw him reign supreme, regaining his position at the top in the final race of the night after falling behind since his first attempt. At the same time as the games, a pan-Asian buffet bursting with flavour was served in the Cotswolds Suite and people were also invited to mix in the Berkeley Lounge.

The team at Arbtech enjoying activities at ArbCon 2024


Despite a feeling of sadness that it was the third and final day of a much-enjoyed conference in the gorgeous Gloucestershire countryside, the team woke up eager to make the most of the remaining talks. Following an extensive breakfast buffet, many of the ecology team attended a pre-planned meet and greet intended for ecologists outside of Arbtech looking to learn more about working at the company and potentially joining in the future.

The meet and greet opportunity in the Cotswolds Suite coincided with a seminar from the in-house wellbeing team in the Roses Suite. Emily Kempson, Rob Lambert, Emma Gray and Katy Perry presented a talk on key concerns raised by Arbtechers over the previous 12 months, help to deal with stress, and advice on helping others. Sunday was intended to be an opportunity for insightful talks from external speakers, with Richard Crompton of Ecology on Demand speaking about bats, arboricultural expert Christopher Neilan speaking about CAVAT, Sean Shereston of Arbology speaking about bats in trees, and Myerscough College senior arboriculture lecturer Duncan Slater speaking about decay in trees.

“I was delighted to be invited to speak at ArbCon 2024.

After delivering training for Arbtech in the past, I have always been impressed with the enthusiasm of the groups I have met, and ArbCon didn’t disappoint!

Arbtech has made big waves in the ecology industry, and I am always happy to help any company that reaches out wanting to help its staff with their professional development.

Having been set a speaking brief with particularly thoughtful aims, it was no surprise that – with loads of really well-considered questions – by lunchtime, we were still only two-thirds of the way through!

Testament to the group for opting to grab lunch and keep going to get the whole presentation – and more questions – finished before the afternoon speaker.

I look forward to working with Arbtech again and speaking at future ArbCon events!”

Richard Crompton, ‘Ecology on Demand’
Bat expert Richard Crompton presenting at ArbCon 2024

“ArbCon 2024 was an amazing experience.

With Tewkesbury Park as the venue, it was positioned perfectly in the centre of the country to allow colleagues from all regions to attend.

As well as being a beautiful venue – and aside from being an excellent social event and allowing us to enjoy the company of our colleagues – it was a brilliant opportunity to share knowledge and experiences.

Going forward, I believe that the ArbCon concept will be a brilliant addition to the Arbtech calendar.”

Emma Gray, Finance Administrator at Arbtech

“The first ever ArbCon has been a flying success for too many reasons to mention.

Ultimately, getting to spend a weekend with colleagues new and old in a combined professional and social setting has really solidified the culture of the company.

It was also really encouraging to see an eagerness to engage with and learn more about wellbeing from disciplines across the company.”

Emily Kempson, Senior Arboriculturist at Arbtech
Emily Kempson presenting at ArbCon 2024 alongside Emma Gray

“I came away from ArbCon feeling overawed by the kindliness of all Arbtech staff, the generosity of organising and funding such a remarkable event, and the shared knowledge that all of us Arbtechers were able to benefit from.

It would be close to impossible for me to pick out anything lacking from ArbCon as an event or Tewkesbury Park as a venue. Between the food, the function rooms, the talks, the activities and – of course – the people, it was an immensely enjoyable three days.

Not only does the event itself demonstrate the ambition of the company, but the opportunities for other aspects such as a Q&A on fitness and nutrition, a session on Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and a talk provided by the in-house wellbeing team – of which I am a member – shows just how progressive, focused on personal and professional development, and open to collaboration Arbtech is too.”

Rob Lambert, Editor at Arbtech
Rob Lambert presenting a talk on wellbeing in the workplace at ArbCon 2024

“My main reaction post-conference is what an excellent and far-sighted example of investing in people; everyone gains, not least Arbtech.

This is especially true now, when much of the support I relied upon to learn my trade as a tree climber and later to make the transition to professional arboriculturist – the AAIS and NUFU, for example – are long gone.

Having said that, Duncan Slater is a great force for good on LinkedIn, and it was a pleasure to meet him in person for the first time when he sat in on my presentation.

I remember early on in my teacher training being told that teaching only happens when someone else has learnt. The indications from my talk at Arbtech, however, were good. I had a full room at 9 am on a Sunday morning, which I thought was very impressive in itself! The interest was evident, and the questions pertinent and helpful, showing a real desire to understand.

I have only two regrets: Firstly, the spectrum of tiredness and adrenaline – the two-edged friend gave me little sleep on Saturday night. It meant that I needed to set back off to West Wales without staying for the rest of the day. The second was that I didn’t bring swimming trunks for the pool!

Finally, what a superb location!”

Christopher Neilan, Arboricultural Expert
Christopher Neilan presenting at ArbCon 2024

“It was a pleasure to speak at ArbCon.

The venue was excellent, the team were involved and eager, and the talks generated insightful queries and dialogues.”

Sean Shereston, ‘Arbology’
Bat and tree expert Sean Shereston at ArbCon 2024

“It was great to sit around a table with around 20 arboricultural technicians and other interested individuals to run through my experience and thoughts on decay in trees.

There were several of my ex-students in the audience, so it was great to catch up with them – and they helped keep the presentation rolling and interesting, asking good, in-depth questions.

A happy afternoon of sharing knowledge.”

Duncan Slater PHD, Senior Arboriculture Lecturer at Myerscough College
Myerscough College's Duncan Slater speaking at ArbCon 2024

An Incredible Three-Day Event at Tewkesbury Park

As a company that always aims to set the bar in everything we do, ArbCon 2024 was a fantastic inaugural conference, and it promises to be even bigger and better in the coming years.

We are thankful to everyone who made ArbCon 2024 possible, including all of the wonderful staff at Tewkesbury Park, guest speakers Richard Crompton, Ben Hunt-Davis, Christopher Neilan, Sean Shereston and Duncan Slater, all of the speakers and trainers from Arbtech, Hannah Bramley, Mel Reid and Aran Nearn for organising and planning the conference, everyone else who played a role in making it the unforgettable event it was, and company CEO Robert Oates for allowing such an event to happen.