My interest in the natural world began in my teenage years when I lived in rural Suffolk and was further cultivated by my parents on family cycling or walking holidays to various parts of the UK. This was further cemented by studying for an Environmental Science degree at Newcastle University and a PhD in plant science, leading to postdoctoral research based at Manchester University, Thailand and Perth in Western Australia on deep-water rice.
I then moved away from research and obtained my first “environmental” job with the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust as their Trees and Woodlands Officer, advising landowners about fallen trees after the Great Storm of October 1987. This was followed by training to be a science teacher, leading to several years in the secondary education sector in Hampshire and Worcestershire, followed by part-time Education officer roles with Worcestershire Wildlife Trust and then Kent Wildlife Trust, once I moved to Kent in 1999. I then began teaching at Hadlow College, where I found my niche in developing degree programmes and teaching courses in Animal Conservation and Biodiversity.
On moving to Kent I quickly signed up to a number of local recording groups, including the Kent Mammal Group, Kent Bat Group and Kent Reptile and Amphibian Group, attending talks, publicity events and training when it was on offer to volunteers. I can still remember meeting a former warden of SBBOT at a Wildlife Conference in Canterbury and reading the leaflet about the bird observatory which he gave to me. I subsequently became a member and started to help out occasionally with the WEX and Phoenix groups with mammal-related activities such as leading bat walks, harvest mouse nest searches and small mammal studies.
My interest in birds has developed in the past 10 years and I often book a room at the observatory, as I live in West Kent. I have been bringing groups of students to stay at the observatory for several years and they have always had a great time seeing the bird ringing, moths, birds on the scrape, seal watching boat trips and any other wildlife to be found on our travels. Other passions include 18 years as an allotment holder, bell-ringing, gardening and more recently recording moths in my garden with the moth trap my children gave me for Christmas! This interest in moths has transferred to my students in college, who can now identify quite a few moths without my help, although their bird ID skills have some way to go!
My interest in governance has stemmed from being a primary school governor and staff governor at Hadlow, as well as the Chair of the Kent Mammal Group since 2012 and a Trustee of the Mammal Society for 6 years until April this year. As the country emerged from lockdown it seemed to be the right time to stand for election as Vice-Chair of SBBOT in May 2021 and I am delighted to be able to help Steffan and the other trustees in steering a way forward as the observatory approaches its’ 60th anniversary in 2022.