Meet Wooden Tom who works as a woodcarver in the Cairngorms National Park.
“I studied ecology at university. After that I worked with the forestry commission in Aviemore. I got to walk around looking at trees all day! Off the beaten track, I got to see some beautiful parts of Scotland. So I’m thankful for that. I fell in love with the area, the Cairngorms National Park and felt I needed to stay here. I decided to create my own work, something which had been a hobby, woodcarving. I had always done it for presents, gifts for people when I was poor. When you don’t have much money, but you still want to give people you love something from the heart. The only way I thought I could do that was using some skills my grandad taught me back in Newcastle when I was young. I used to go into the woods in the area where I grew up. I would find some gnarly bits of wood and make something out of it. That was part of my childhood.
I think what makes me stay up here is not so much the beautiful surroundings, the mountains and the forests. It’s the people who live up here in the Cairngorms. Because they trust you from the start. A lot of places I’ve lived before it’s quite the opposite. People don’t trust you until you prove them otherwise. Here, people make such an effort to get to know you. That makes you feel so welcomed. It’s a lovely place to live.
The kids I knew growing up, they’re now a lot wealthier than me, I can tell you that! They probably have much bigger homes, take really nice holidays. Yes very different! But it doesn’t bother me. I love it here. It’s a very relaxed pace of life. It’s a bit slowed down, working in the woods. In the highlands in general I think everyone takes a different pace of life. I think it’s so healthy for people. Just to slow down a bit and enjoy what they’ve got. I love that about this area and the people that live here. I haven’t got much spare cash for a flash car but I can say that I enjoy every day.”