My Passion For The Natural World
Since childhood I’ve always wanted to be outside, getting muddy, playing in the open air or running on sandy beaches.
Growing up in Sidmouth, Devon, allowed lots of opportunity for all of these things and more.
My fondest memory is being picked up from school, along with my brother. We would spend teatime on the beach with a picnic. Simple pleasures but one my Mum was, and still is, very good at arranging.
I soon realised that becoming a vet was’nt something my academic prowess, or rather lack of, would allow. So I set my sights on becoming a Countryside Ranger.
I volunteered with Dartmoor National Park and then spent a year working on an intensive dairy and pig farm. This was a pre requisite of achieving a place at Merrist Wood Agricultural College.
At the time Merrist Wood was the only college in the UK to offer Countryside Management qualifications.
During this time I worked for Brecon Beacons National Park, Pagham Harbour National Nature Reserve and Pembrokeshire National Park. Once I had finished college I gained my first proper job in East Sussex.
My new role as Brighton and Hove Urban Fringe Ranger with Special Preference to the Brighton Bypass (yes that really was the job title!) taught me a lot about human resilience. It highlighted our passion as a nation for the countryside and it’s wildlife.
Working as a mediator between the Bypass contractors and the local community was a huge challenge.
Yet in small but significant ways we were able to develop and improve opportunities for local people. We helped local communities reconnect with the South Downs Post Bypass barrier.
From here I moved across to West Sussex County Council as a Low Weald Countryside Ranger.
I looked after 15 miles of disused railway line known as the Downs Link. It linked the North Downs Way with the South Downs Way.
My crowning glory was to persuade the Bluebell Railway to “donate” a railway carriage to use as a visitor centre. Which I felt would work well at West Grinstead Station.
It is still there and a very proud feature of the site.
I finally moved across from countryside to third sector and worked for a variety of charities in a management capacity.
My highlight was working for Cancer Research UK as their South East Regional Manager, but I was starting to miss the great outdoors.
As luck would have it I successfully applied for the role of CEO at a West London charity called Green Corridor.
This small charity specialised in linking people with places.
On arriving I found it to be in a considerable pickle. But after 10 years of very hard work I had developed an organisation that punched well above its weight. It had also gained a well respected reputation within London’s City Hall
It was a fun 10 years and I was and still am very proud of everything that charity achieved. But times change and I needed the next challenge!
East Clayton Farm
Which brings me to where I am today at East Clayton Farm.
It feels as if I’ve come full circle, I’m now working in the heart of the South Downs. I’m helping disadvantaged people, mainly those that are young or with dementia, reconnect, through landbased activities on a 120 acre Farm.
It brings everything together, getting muddy, working outside, helping people connect. The best bit is that it takes place within five minutes of home, in a county I have a strong attachment to.
I use photography at work, helping young people to appreciate what is around them, to better understand it and feel a connection towards it.
Setting up Wild By Nature, seemed a natural step in broadening this approach. It’s a passion of mine that I feel very privileged to be able to share, welcome to my little world and this journey of discovery !