Olly Garrod: Woodsman was a pioneer of chainsaw carving

A champion woodsman at the Royal Norfolk Show, Olly Garrod, who has died aged 86, was also a pioneer of chainsaw carving.

The long-serving Forestry Commission worker also accumulated a collection of flint weapons and implements, fossils, rocks and minerals, which became a mini-museum at his Thetford home.

With his brother, Jack, the Garrod brothers became well-known in forestry circles as they competed in competitions over a number of years.

Fiercely-competitive Mr Garrod won Lord Somerleyton's Woodchoppers Trophy at the 1963 Royal Norfolk Show and £5 from the Royal Forestry Society.

His son, Christopher, who was five, watched his father beat 18 competitors in a winning time of five minutes 45 seconds and his uncle, Jack, finished third.


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They had to cut down a 25ft pine tree with a 5lb felling axe within three minutes and then chop it into lengths using a bow saw.

He competed at successive shows at the Norfolk Sowground at Costessey and won a clutch of awards. He was never placed second, so never got a blue rosette.

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Oliver Garrod, who was born in 1927, and his father ran Waterend Farm, Great Cressingham.

During the final stages of the second world war, he served with the Royal Scots in Italy and was posted to Palestine.

He was one of the first on the scene after the terrorists bombed the King David Hotel, Jerusalem, when 91 people were killed on July 22, 1946.

On his return to Britain, he was corporal of the guard at Edinburgh Castle during the visit of Queen Mary, the Queen's grandmother.

After he was demobbed, he worked on the family farm before joining the Forestry Commission.

With his brother, they were among the first to use chainsaws for commercial felling and he used to give demonstrations of chainsaw handling at the annual woodchoppers' gala at Santon Downham in the heart of Thetford Forest.

He received a 40-year long service award from the Commission and during his career took part in the transition from hand-felling to using chainsaws to the introduction of specialist timber harvesting machinery.

Fascinated by natural history and old stones from the age of five, he found many more while working for the Commission, notably on Thetford Chase, when timber operations brought many to the surface.

To mark their 25th wedding anniversary in 1976, his wife gave him a shed to house his collection, which included flint weapons.

'The larger majority of my collection has come from Norfolk,' he told the EDP.

'I have flints that could have been hand axes, skinning knives, arrow heads and spear heads and chisels,' he added.

A former treasurer and chairman of Thetford Allotments' Association, he also represented members on the town council.

Married to Norma for 40 years, she died in 1991.

He leaves a son, Christopher and daughter, Christine, three grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

A funeral service will be held at West Suffolk Crematorium on Monday, August 5 at 12.45pm.

Michael Pollitt

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