05 November 2019

And I would walk 9,000 miles…

Training | PPC97 November 2019

At BPCA we facilitate a host of pest management training opportunities, that attract candidates from around the UK and further afield.

One of our most renowned training programmes is the General Pest Control (GPC) course, which leads to the Level 2 Award in Pest Management qualification.

This September (2019), we welcomed Christiane (Chrissy) Anthony to the course, who travelled almost 9,000 miles to join other delegates on the one-week residential classroom programme.

Walk 9000 miles Chrissy Anthony

Ascension Island is a very isolated, volcanic island about 1,000 miles off the coast of Africa, with a tiny population of around 800 people.

Chrissy has worked in pest management for the Ascension Island Government (AIG) for seven years.

Pest control falls under Ascension’s Environmental Health department, which deals with everything from pests to water testing and sewage issues.

Earlier this year the department received funding from various projects, including The Darwin Initiative and the RSPB, and made the decision to use some of that funding to cement the professionalism of its employees.

Up to this point, Chrissy’s training had been entirely on the job. This funding gave her the perfect opportunity to gain some formal pest management qualifications.

“My director was very keen to use the funding to help build my skills, but it was actually me who suggested that I take the Level 2 GPC through BPCA,” explained Chrissy.

“It’s a very widely recognised qualification and I knew that it would be a huge boost for me to have it.”

Chrissy hasn’t wasted any of her time in the UK.

“Once she had booked that, my director found other training courses that were taking place in the same month and I registered on those too. It’s been a busy four weeks!”

Starting with work experience for Charnwood Borough Council, Chrissy spent two days with the pest control team and two days with the Environmental Health department.

“I helped them carry out inspections on food premises and it was so helpful, to see how the industry works here compared with back home.”

A week spent on the Level 2 GPC residential programme at Yarnfield Park Training and Conference Centre in Staffordshire was next for Chrissy.

The course is led by Paul Westgate, who Chrissy said had a great teaching style which suited her way of learning.

She explained, “Paul doesn’t just talk at you for a week, he keeps you engaged and he gets you doing activities. And he comes up with quirky ways of helping you remember things, including the quiz night in the middle of the week which was a lot of fun.

“It was also really good to spend a lot of time with other people working or starting out in pest control, listening to their experiences and helping build each other’s knowledge.

“Interestingly, we worked out that there was space for more people at Yarnfield Park than there are people living on Ascension.”

Paul doesn’t just talk at you for a week, he keeps you engaged and he gets you doing activities

Chrissy Anthony

After GPC it was off to Killgerm for the ‘Principles Involved in Controlling Pests in Drainage Systems’ training.

That title doesn’t roll off the tongue, but the training was particularly useful for Chrissy, given that rats are not just a pest on Ascension but a huge conservation concern too.

Finally, Chrissy completed her whistle-stop tour of the UK in Leicester: “I took the City and Guilds Safe Use of Pesticides and Pesticide Application qualifications. I got my results through straight away and I was very pleased to pass!

“It’s been an incredible opportunity to come to the UK and learn from some incredibly well-respected pest professionals.

“But the pace here is much quicker than I’m used to, so I’m looking forward to going back home and relaxing!”

Ascension’s wildlife

There are no native land mammals on Ascension, only sea mammals such as whales.

Over the centuries several introduced mammals have gone feral; donkeys, sheep, cats, rats and mice.

Conservation is a big issue on Ascension Island. There have been successful programmes for protecting green turtles, probably the most well-known of Ascension’s wildlife.

And the Ascension Heritage Society has worked hard with the RSPB to protect the birdlife on the island.

“At one point there was a huge project to cull feral cat numbers, as they were affecting native bird populations like the frigate bird,” says Chrissy.

“Unfortunately that meant the rat population started to get out of hand and they’ve been attacking other seabirds.”

In terms of pests, Chrissy explained that there is a lot that we have here in the UK which they just don’t get on Ascension, probably due to the lack of vegetation and native land mammals.

“Some of the pests we do share are rats, mice, ants, fleas and cockroaches,” says Chrissy, “But our hotter weather means that cockroaches on Ascension fly, which I’m told you don’t get here. It can make you jump when they fly at you!”

She continued, “We don’t get pigeons which I know are a huge pest problem here in the UK, but we do have myna birds. They’re an invasive species which is really aggressive and threatens native bird species.”

To find out more about Ascension and its wildlife, visit the Ascension Island Government website.

Source: PPC97

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