Meet The Team – Peppi Cella, Estate Surveyor
“Being one of the longest serving employees has given me, I believe, a unique role on the Estate. The experience that I have gained from various roles enables me to support and assist all the businesses across the Estate with their varied requirements.”
- When did you start working at Cowdray and in what role?
I started work on the Estate on 13th August 1979 as an apprentice carpenter and joiner on a three-year apprenticeship. My woodwork teacher at Midhurst Grammar School informed me that the Estate was looking for an apprentice. I applied and was lucky enough to get the position.
I started at Chichester College in September 1979. Having completed my three-year apprenticeship, I continued with my advance craft studies in joinery and then went onto further studies in construction, surveying and building management.
For the next 16 years, I continued to learn my trade in the Joinery workshop and on the Estate’s larger construction projects. Through this I gained experience as well as learnt about the Estate. I worked as part of a large Works Department team – all of whom were excellent tradesmen. They kept pushing me to achieve the best standards I could.
- What is your role now?
Being one of the longest serving employees has given me, I believe, a unique role on the Estate. The experience that I have gained from various roles enables me to support and assist all the businesses across the Estate with their varied requirements.
My current title is Estate Surveyor and I line manage 16 members of staff. This role primarily consists of heading up the Parks and Gardens and Security teams. These two teams get involved with all sorts of projects across the Estate.
Parks and Gardens care for the parklands and public areas of the Estate, as well assisting the Events in preparing Cowdray House and The Walled Garden for weddings, private parties, and private stays. The Security team consists of four members of staff working on a 12-hour shift, daywork and nightwatchman shifts, 24/7, 365 days a year.
I am also the Estate’s Health and Safety coordinator, work closely with the National Farmers’ Union consultant and assist with vehicle fleet management.
- How has the Estate changed over this time?
I have certainly seen some changes over the years. When I first started, John Cowdray, the current Lord Cowdray’s father, oversaw the Estate. He was passionate about polo, shooting, fishing, forestry and farming. I can remember the team carrying out a lot of work for his pastimes. In the workshop we made pheasant pens and polo goal posts and inner poles ready for polo season.
Today there is a more structured and business-like approach. Lord and Lady Cowdray together with Jonathan Russell have had to think about the Estate’s future with sustainability being a key factor. Cowdray has had to evolve and adapt to ensure that it exists for future generations. This is not only essential for the family but is also incredibly important for its employees too as well as the local community.
It has also been exciting to see the developments of new departments. These include Parks and Gardens, Events and Marketing. The Farm Shop & Café has also been established and has increased in popularity over the years. These departments have brought a range of new employment opportunities to the local area.
- Do you have any particularly memorable moments at Cowdray?
The great storm of 1987 which occurred on the night of 15th and 16th October. During those challenging few days the Estate’s ethos of ‘all for one’ came to the fore. All the departments worked together, and everyone mucked in to get through this difficult period.
I also vividly remember getting into a helicopter which had landed behind the Lawns stand on Gold Cup Finals Day. I asked the pilot if he could move the aircraft to the designated landing site on the River Ground. After giving him directions, he said it would be easier for me to jump in and show him – he did not have to ask twice! He took off over Midhurst and then came back in a loop across the polo grounds. What a fantastic sight looking down on a crowd of around 15,000 people on a beautiful summer’s day.
The Estate used to play cricket and golf against Goodwood and Petworth Estates. I have fond memories of these competitive sporting events which always ended with great social evenings.
- Do you live on the Estate, and do you have a strong family connection to the area?
My wife and I have lived at Benbow Gate for the past 26 years, where we have brought up our two children.
When we first got married, we moved into a small two-bedroom cottage in Easebourne Street. My wife comes from Heyshott, where my in-laws still live. My father was Italian and my mother Spanish – they met in the late 1950’s when they were working at Seaford College near Graffham and St Michael’s School in Duncton both in West Sussex.
I was born in Chichester and brought up at Seaford College. It was an idyllic place to grow up. During the school holidays we had the run of the place and could use all the sporting areas and facilities with our friends and neighbours. We would use the football, rugby, cricket pitches and tennis and squash courts.
- Do you have a favourite spot on the Estate?
The views from the top of Broomhill near Benbow Pond are my favourite part of the Estate. It’s well worth a walk to the top of the hill.
From there, you can see right across the South Downs to Manor Farm in Heyshott. You can also enjoy seeing the avenue of lime trees planted in 2012 to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II as well as spot features on the Estate including Benbow Holiday Cottages, Moor Farm, Cowdray House and Ambersham and Heyshott Commons.
Val and I were lucky enough to move to Benbow in 1995. We all love living here – dog walks always take a different route and the view from our kitchen window is amazing.
- What are your interests outside work?
I love most sports – football being my favourite. I used to play for a local football team, but a serious knee injury ended my playing career in my late 20’s. I then qualified as a referee and have progressed to running the line in full Sussex County League matches for several seasons.
I am now a member of the Cowdray Golf Club and try to get at least one round golf in at the weekend.
My wife and I love to go to watch Liverpool play at Anfield. We try to get there at least once a season and enjoy the whole weekend away.
I also enjoy taking the Canine Partner dogs that my wife fosters at weekends. We take them for walks, especially around Benbow.
- Where do you like to go on holiday?
When we go abroad, Italy is my favourite destination. We still have Italian relatives on my father’s side of the family. They live in southern Italy, about an hour south of Naples.
In the UK, we like to relax in the Lyme Regis area of Dorset, where we enjoy the beaches and walks along the coastal paths.
- What is the number one thing on your bucket list?
I would like to go and watch the Masters golf tournament at the Augusta National, in Georgia, America.
- And what can’t you live without?
I cannot live without Liverpool Football Club. I have been a supporter since I was seven!Back to News