Profile: Fraser Williamson

Area Ranger, Chartwell and West Kent

Fraser Williamson - Area Ranger

Fraser Williamson works as an area ranger and conservationist across the Chartwell portfolio in West Kent. He's passionate about protecting nature and wildlife from environmental damage. He reveals what made him give up the world of luxury yachts to spend his days in wellies.

Area Ranger, Fraser Williamson, working in the Chartwell countryside

‘I remember the moment clearly, stood on a powder-soft sandy beach on an uninhabited tropical island, when I made the decision to give up a life of luxury to become a conservationist and National Trust ranger. 

'As a former Police Officer trained in firearms and close protection, diving instructor and yacht master, I’d spent over a decade working aboard multi-million pound yachts for the super-rich, providing armed close protection and counter piracy safeguards. My specialist skills meant I was well paid and in demand.
'It had been an exciting life, travelling the world with the rich and the famous, visiting remote places, indulging my love of diving and nature. But I felt unchallenged, unfulfilled and bored. 
‘I became increasingly angry and frustrated at the excesses and environmental damage being done for personal luxury. 
'I made a decision there and then to turn my back on the career I’d worked so hard to reach the top in.’ 
" I had to get out, to do something I believed in"
- Fraser Williamson

Inspired as a boy

‘My great-uncle had been a massive influence on me as a child. A farmer and self-taught conservationist, he was my David Attenborough. 
'I recall visiting him as a youngster; he’d point out rare plants such as small orchids that were barely distinguishable in the long grass; find fossils and identify birds by their song. He was even awarded a British Empire medal for his work establishing Seaford Head National Nature Reserve.
‘I knew I wanted to work in conservation, to do something that made a difference and leave a legacy. Between contracts I’d volunteered with Project Aware and the Nature Conservancy Council, helping to re-establish coral reefs that had been buried beneath silt washed into the sea as the result of deforestation and development.
My lightbulb moment came whilst on leave and visiting a National Trust place. I got talking to a couple of rangers and their passion and enthusiasm was immediately infectious. I'd paid my entry fee as a visitor, but they were being paid to be there and were making a real mind was made up.

New beginning 

‘I left my high paid career and crammed all my belongings into shipping containers. Within a month of arriving back in the UK, I found myself huddled on a windswept hillside in Pembrokeshire as a full-time volunteer ranger, planting oak trees in horizontal hail. I was cold, I was wet, and I had a smile on my face. 
'After a year or so, with experience and training under my belt, I began applying for permanent paid positions. That's when I became a ranger at Chartwell. It's a wonderful place, a stunning house and a large estate. I help take care of around 1,200 acres of ancient woodland and historic landscape, it's a great opportunity and one where I make a meaningful difference.
‘One of the things I enjoy is sharing our work and my knowledge with visitors. Whether that’s by explaining why and how we manage woodland to an adult or pointing out an unusual species to a child and seeing their eyes widen in amazement.
I believe engaging children is vital, they’re our future Trust members, staff and volunteers. They are our future conservators.’