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.”
‘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.’