My passion for wildlife was stimulated in my teenage years, mainly thanks to my Mum (a biology teacher) who made me look at the world differently and being inspired by writers such as Paul Colinvaux. This early interest developed into biological research in my 20s, when I did practical conservation work in places such as the Comores and Mongolia.
Today, any free time I have I spend pottering around the flatlands of East Anglia or escaping to our hut on the Northumberland coast looking for wildlife and castles with my wife and children.
I studied Biological Sciences at Oxford and Conservation at UCL, and worked at Wildlife and Countryside Link before spending five years as Conservation Director at Plantlife.
I joined the RSPB as Head of Government Affairs in 2004, became Head of Sustainable Development in 2006, before becoming Conservation Director in 2011.
If you spend time thinking about family, you unleash a Pandora’s box of emotions: blood is thicker than water, sibling rivalry, remember to celebrate the success of others, don’t live your life through your children - nurture them and let them go etc.
The RSPB is part of a wider family – it’s called the Birdlife International partnership. At a RSPB Council meeting yesterday, BirdLife’s Chief Executive, Marco Lambertini, gave a powerful and inspirational overview of the work of our family.
This is a large family - made up of 10 million voices in 120 countries. It is a family that spends a lot of money - $502 million annually on nature conservation. But it is a family on a mission – to prevent the extinction of species. The mission is challenging – one in eight of all bird species are currently categorised as ‘threatened’.
But, this is a family that knows what it needs to do. It has identified 11,000 sites (called Important Bird Areas) in 218 countries which need protecting.
We, the RSPB, are just one member of that family, but we have our own part to play: to help save nature in our own (UK) back yard and support other members of our family to achieve our goals. That’s why we actively support a large number of partners in countries from India to Indonesia and Sierra Leone to the Seychelles.
When the family has a problem, we close ranks and try to help out. That is what it means to be part of a family. We help each other out when we need it and together we are stronger.
I just must remember to tell the kids that the next time they are squabbling over a board game...