Value for money and speakers

The course was run at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire. I attended 1st July, 2014.

The £126 (inc VAT, for AA members) price for the 1 day course is very reasonable for a professional-level course, especially since this included refreshments throughout and a pretty decent buffet for dinner – always a winner!

The two speakers were Guy Watson, Certhia Consulting and Andy Hall, Forestry Commission. Both were extremely professional and engaging.

I was really keen to hear from Guy in particular, as I had heard from numerous people within the industry that he was a very competent instructor, so to ensure I could learn from him, I signed up for this event as soon as I could.

General content overview

The content was very well balanced, ranging through; P&D identification skills, diagnosis through symptoms, colonisation methods, and most importantly, giving recommendations to our clients. As a few specific examples, we looked at P&D past, present (ash die back and Massaria in plane trees) and future (Asian long horn beetle and emerald ash borer).

Expert knowledge

I think Guy did a fantastic job making the course flow well. For example, he gave a concise yet understandable overview of CODIT. One hallmark of a true expert is the ability to communicate complex concepts in very simple language. Whereas previously, I have seen presenters get bogged down and begin to flounder when trying to give a ‘simple’ breakdown of CODIT, Guy obviously knew his subject intimately.

Strong group interaction

The delivery of the course from both speakers was excellent. They were confident and invite a lot of quality interaction from other delegates. On really great courses you learn as much from as you do the speakers themselves and the day at Stoneleigh Park was no exception. (I have been on courses in the past and have had to pinch myself to keep focused on what was being taught.)

The Q&A

Both Guy and Andy have a deep and broad understanding of P&D and were able to field questions from all comers with ease, imparting clear, practical advice that will benefit our clients. At the same time they were very encouraging to other delegates that possessed only a basic grasp of P&D, which was great to see.

Both speakers took the time to explain concepts thoroughly, but managed to avoid getting side tracked and overrunning. I felt Andy and Guy’s delivery was generally excellent and made some quite tricky subjects (e.g. different modes of rot) very accessible.

Has it raised my professional standards?

The course has undoubtedly lived up to expectations and indeed has raised my professional standards, as well as reinforcing much of my existing knowledge. It has helped me keep up to date with recent developments in P&D, some of which comes directly from Forestry Commission’s research. Much of this can be disseminated throughout my network and naturally, my fellow Arbtechers now that I’m back at the grindstone.


I came away from the course extremely satisfied and was pleased to report to the MD that it was CPD budget well spent – we have an unlimited CPD budget here at Arbtech, which is designed to empower us to better ourselves and maximise the value we provide to our clients.

The true test of a course: would I recommend a friend?

I have recommend all the arboriculturists at Arbtech sign up for it at some point. I was (only a little bit) disappointed with the Arboricultural Association’s P&D road show a couple of years ago (it wasn’t a bad course; just not as good as some others I’ve been on). But Guy and Andy’s course was cracking and has really made up for it – if you get the chance, I highly recommend you attend it. The next one is in Edinburgh in September, and there’s another in October in Somerset. Not the easiest places to get to for many of you, I’m sure, but well worth the trip.


I really hoped you enjoyed reading my AA Tree Pests and Diseases course review. I welcome any feedback and comments below. Were you there? Do you disagree with my views on anything? If so, let me know. Finally, please feel free to tweet and share this as much as you like. Until next time…

Image credit: Stu Phillips (Creative Commons Licence)