Royal award for Planter John

John Litman, 64, from Geddington, has received an award from the Royal Forestry Society for almost 50 years of work on the Boughton estate
John Litman, 64, from Geddington, has received an award from the Royal Forestry Society for almost 50 years of work on the Boughton estate

A woodsman whose prolific planting of trees on the Boughton Estate earned him the nickname Planter John has received an award from the Royal Forestry Society.

John Litman, 64, from Geddington, started working on the estate as a teenager in the mid-1960s as an assistant on a pole wagon hauling timber into the estate sawmill.

He began his career with just an axe, but now uses the latest technology.

He received a long service award from Royal Forestry Society vice-president Sophie Churchill at an event at Kelmarsh Hall.

John told the Telegraph he was pleased almost five decades of working with wood had been recognised.

He said: “It felt brilliant. I do this work every day – I didn’t think it was anything special.

“It was a very nice thing to happen to me, quite honestly, to be recognised a bit.”

John has done a range of different jobs during his time on the estate.

In the past few years he has been focused on the production of firewood, but he said he has enjoyed whatever task he has done.

He said: “It’s a great life – hard, but a great sense of satisfaction.

“I like the physical exercise and looking at the trees I have planted many years ago and which are now big trees.

“If you ever have a bad day you think tomorrow will be a better day, and off you go again.”

John, who moved to Geddington from Scotland as a 16-year-old, is married to Dorothy and has three children and six grandchildren, but says he has no plans to retire.

He said: “I feel like I can carry on. I have always enjoyed it.

“It’s unusual for someone to be in this job for as long as me, because it is quite hard.”

John is best known to many as Johnny Guitar thanks to his performances of Bob Dylan and Rolling Stones numbers at open mic nights in local pubs.

Boughton Estate Forestry manager Jonathan Plowe has paid tribute to John’s steady character and commitment to getting the job done to a high standard.