MY BPCA TRAINING EXPERIENCE IN THE UNITED KINGDOM

My Dream

Exactly a year ago, I had the privilege of traveling to the United Kingdom for the sole purpose of attending the British Pest Control Association RSPH Level 2 Award in Pest Management training course, a 5-day classroom course and 6-weeks’ worth of online learning, It’s the industry-standard qualification for pest management professionals in the UK.  My overall experience was fantastic, and I would recommend the BPCA training course for colleagues in Nigeria’s (Africa) pest control industry and beyond.

 

Initially, I carried out research trying to decipher where this long-time dream and hope can become a reality, I have read about different pest control training academies in different parts of the world. A colleague in the Nigeria pest control industry, PCO Lekan Otusanya of Bug PRO LTD referred me to the BPCA training academy. Then I took my time to look through the BPCA website and was impressed by the course content that varies from foundation, core, higher and advanced, I settled for the advanced residential course. The registration fee was 1,602 pounds sterling.

 

Just a bit over a decade of experience in the Nigerian pest control industry, in which I had the privilege of pioneering the first registered private pest control training academy in Nigeria and a few other giant strides, the quest to increase my knowledge capacity, expose myself to current trends regards global best practices in the pest control industry, improving the standard of Rotimax Pest Control Training Academy in Nigeria, were the driving force behind the decision for studying at BPCA. The pest control process in the UK is a bit different from what we are used to in Nigeria, but there are some similarities. The main difference is that the process is much more regulated, and a pest controller cannot purchase pest control items without a proof of certification in Level 2 award in pest management.

 

Travel Process

I made full payment for the tuition fee and started the Visa application process, Mr. Niall Fairbrother, an Administrator at the BPCA wrote and sent an invitation letter to me on the 24th of February 2021 against the training, which was to commence on the 6th of June, 2021. To my utmost surprise, after two-three months of waiting, I was denied a Visa for the trip. I swiftly shared the negative news with the BPCA team, and they were greatly surprised and encouraged me to reapply.

 

During the second application for another batch of the training which was to start on January 31st, 2022, I made my intention known to them that I would like to come for the training with my wife who will not be participating in the training and they agreed to that request with the condition that at the training school, I will have to pay for her feeding alone because my tuition already covers my feeding for the numbers of days we were going to stay at the venue.

 

The Training Coordinator Clare Penn, Niall Fairbrother, and every other BPCA team, Natalie Hulme Director of sales at Yarnfield park, the venue of the training were amazing and supportive with consistent correspondence and information dissemination ahead of my arrival for the training course. It took almost a year after making payment for the course before the dream turned into reality; I waited patiently without exploring the option of seeking a refund due to frustrations.

 

In November 2021, I was in Abuja conducting pest control training in the capital city of Nigeria, when I got an email from the UK embassy that the Visa application had been granted. I returned to Lagos to start preparing to leave Nigeria on the 30th of January 2022 against the training which was slated for 31st of January till.

 

Covid 19 restrictions on lockdown had been relaxed a bit, but a minimum of three days quarantine with testing was mandatory for Visitors coming into the United Kingdom around the period scheduled for us to arrive, aside this Mrs. Clare sent BPCA Coronavirus Risk Assessment, Covid-19 Health Questionnaire, and few other forms for me to duly sign to guarantee participation in the course.

 

We booked Qatar airways to depart Nigeria on the 27th of January 2022, arrived at Heathrow airport afterward, and immediately discovered the Hoodie we bought in Nigeria to fight the Cold weather in the UK was an effort in futility, the Hoodie could not help us as we were almost freezing while waiting for National Coach to convey us from London to Birmingham, it was a two-hour road trip. We arrived in Birmingham late in the night and met with a friend from Nigeria; Emmanuel Odumosu who booked an Uber to our final destination and made sure we settled down quickly at IBIS styles Hotel Birmingham. We spent three days before heading to Yarnfield Park Conference Centre, Stone, Staffordshire on Sunday 30th after completing the three days quarantine and also confirming that the result of the Covid test is Negative.

 

Study Time and Experience

I arrived in the company of my wife at Yarn field Park Conference Centre around 6 pm on that fateful Sunday evening and swiftly settled into the room reserved for us at Stone, Staffordshire, the venue of the training. Our first contact was Mrs. Clare Penn, she is extremely hospitable, warm, friendly, and supportive before and during our stay, she told me her experience working at a University in a different country a year back contributes to how she relates with applicants at the BPCA.

 

I joined the class for the welcome ceremony and first lecture by Mr. Paul West gate of Veritas Consultancy, we also had Mr. Grahame Turner of pestacuity UK, I was amazed to find out I was the only international student and one of the few who ever travelled all the way from Africa to attend the prestigious course, to be qualified to buy pest control products as a pest controller in the United Kingdom, RSPH Level two award in pest management is the basic requirement.

 

My reserved seat was surrounded by three other participants who made me settle down quickly, we handled the group task given to us together, and my little experience helped us but they were amazing and understanding young men. One of them, James, encouraged me to relocate to the United Kingdom to practice pest control as most of his clients in Central London are Nigerians. As bulky as the training materials were, the trainers presented them so simply and practicably. I learned a lot. Thanks to all the speakers.

 

Yarnfield park is built in a completely remote area without access to restaurants and supermarkets, about an hour’s trip to any urban location by car. We struggled with adapting to British meals, i.e. Sliced bacon, kidney beans, mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, pork meat, etc. for a week and it was really difficult but a worthwhile experience, there were no trains or commercial buses that moved through the location, only private cars and occasionally Uber drivers who came there to drop off passengers.

 

Days into the lectures, Our Supervisor Mrs. Clare Penn was concerned about how I had to excuse myself away from the class numerous times to pick up calls outside, it was my longest time away from the business I have groomed for over a decade and a lot of calls from clients and colleagues at Rotimax was responsible for few distractions in the classroom. I was glad to have the opportunity to take a group picture with seventy-five percent members of the class while the rest declined; I freely shared copies of the Book I authored in Nigeria with most of my colleagues and lecturers.

 

The Examination came on the last day of the course and it was strictly supervised, that afforded me the opportunity to Meet Mrs. Kareen Dawes the training and Development manager at BPCA for the first time, she enforced the no access to mobile phones and electronic gadgets rules and was very strict during invigilation, participants were been monitored in case of visiting the restrooms, by passing the examination you will achieve the RSPH Level 2 Award in Pest Management. The examination is made up of three papers each relating to public health pest control:  Unit 1: Vertebrates (15 questions), Unit 2: Invertebrates (15 questions), Unit 3: Health, Safety and Legal Aspects (15 questions), you will have up to three hours to complete all three papers. The examination papers consist of a mix of multiple-choice and short answer questions around the biology, behavior, and control of rodents, rabbits, squirrels, moles, feral cats, foxes, and birds; control of insects (in particular wasps, flies, cockroaches, Pharaohs ants, stored product insects and biting insects), legislation, safe storage and transportation of pesticides, use of application equipment and much more.

 

Return Home

We left Yarnfield park for a friend’s place in Wigan the same day after the exams and spent five days exploring a different part of Wigan, the most remarkable is achieving my longtime dream of watching my adorable football club live at the theatre of dreams, on the 12th day of February 2022, I was live at the Old Trafford to watch the match between Manchester United and Southampton, to see the team I am always glued to the Television to watch weekly was an amazing experience. We proceeded to Central London and lodged at Double by Hilton Hotel, the following days we visited the Buckingham palace, Westminster to Greenwich Sightseeing Thames Boat Cruise, we enjoyed the sight of London from the cable car in the O2 arena, celebrated Valentine with a visit to the Lamprey Copt hall avenue and few other experience.

 

We returned to Nigeria on the 25th of February, 2022 and the wonderful experience still lingers today. Overall, the pest control training experience in the United Kingdom was an amazing opportunity. It provided us with a chance to explore the beautiful region of England and gain valuable insights into best practices for pest control. I was able to develop my knowledge about various types of pests that are not commonly found in Nigeria, as well as learn how to implement effective strategies for their prevention and removal. The trip was truly a memorable one, full of new experiences that we will remember fondly for years to come.

 

Barely a month after, my experience motivated me to return to London for the second time within two months to attend the BPCA Pest Ex event in central London. The biggest networking platform I ever found myself as a pest controller. All major pest control products manufacturers from different parts of the world were present. It was another opportunity to See Mrs. Clare Penn again and a few others that we met at the Yarnfield park in Staffordshire. I look forward to attending BPCA`s training and events in the near future.

 

TOLU CALEB

MD-CEO

Rotimax Pest Control Training Academy

Rotimax Integrated Services Limited

Alcochem Hygiene Nigeria

Lagos State, Nigeria.