Profile: Fraser Williamson

Ranger, Chartwell and Toys Hill

Fraser Williamson - Ranger

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

Fraser Williamson

‘I remember the moment clearly, stood on 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 12 years working aboard multi-million pound yachts for the super-rich, providing armed security and counter piracy patrols. My specialist skills meant I was well paid and in demand.
'It had been an exciting life, travelling the world, visiting remote places, indulging my love of diving and nature. But I felt unchallenged, unfulfilled and bored. 
‘I was also angry at the 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 little orchids that grew only on the South Downs, 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. Between contracts I’d volunteered with Project Aware, helping to build reefs to replace those buried beneath silt washed into the sea as the result of the deforestation.
My lightbulb moment came while visiting a National Trust place. I noticed the rangers and thought: “I’ve paid to come into this beautiful place, these people are paid to be here. What a fantastic job.” 

New beginning 

‘I left my high paid career, and within a month of arriving back in Britain, 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, with experience and training under my belt, I applied for a paid post, and was lucky enough to become a ranger at Chartwell. It’s a wonderful place, a stunning house with a large estate. I’ve been given 25 acres of woodland to manage, it really is the most incredible opportunity. 
‘One of the things I love is sharing my knowledge with visitors. Whether that’s by explaining the importance of managing woodland to an adult, or pointing out a stag beetle, our largest native beetle, to a 10-year-old and seeing her eyes widen in amazement. I believe engaging children is vital, they’re our future Trust members, and our future conservators.’