Brighton-based vet Marc Abraham qualified from Edinburgh University in 1995 and has since had a wide-ranging career both as a practicing vet, as well as a TV and radio vet, on The Paul O'Grady Show, BBC Breakfast, Good Morning Britain, BBC Radio Sussex, and many others. He is also an author and campaigner, and recently became a member of Sussex Wildlife Trust, so we caught up with him over the phone.
How are you coping with the strangeness of this year?
I'm coping OK thanks. When you look around at all the horror stories, those of us that are well and have access to the outdoors are lucky. I wrote a book last year which was a weird form of self-isolation and got me into some useful habits. I'd get up and 6.15am every day, swim, and then write.
During lockdown, I got even more obsessed with sunsets and took photos every day. Life revolved around the beach and sea swimming. I particularly love rockpools, the beach at low tide, and exploring the strandline.
Luckily, I can do all my campaign work as well as TV and radio appearances from home, which saves a lot of time travelling to London.
Where did you discover a love of wildlife?
I grew up right on the edge of north west London. My dad joked we lived on the last road. My parents got me out and about a lot, walking in the local fields. I'd collect feathers, broken eggshells, and so forth. It ignited my passion for nature. I loved to identify things like butterflies, and then draw them. Instead of football parties when I was a boy, my dad would organise outdoor parties for my friends, complete with nature trail.
You've covered a lot of ground with your work.
One of the best things about being trained as a vet is that you can use your skills wherever you go. I'm fortunate to have travelled a great deal in my life, volunteering for animal welfare organisations all over the world, including war-torn regions, and have also witnessed incredible wildlife in the Amazon, Thailand, India, and many other places too.
Tell us what you're working on now.
I was a vet for 25 years but I stopped being a practicing vet in Brighton a couple of years ago to focus more on campaigning and continuing to change laws to help animals, especially ending puppy farming. I do miss it though.
Do you have pets yourself?
I don't at the moment although I'd love a rescue greyhound one day, probably from Raystede, a great Sussex rescue centre. Sadly, I'm too stuck to my computer at the moment so would need a change in lifestyle. Maybe next year!
What do you most enjoy about your work?
As a vet, helping animals. As a campaigner, making a difference and improving the lives of both animals and people.
What’s the biggest struggle?
All the politics I ever knew was from watching Spitting Image with my dad as a kid, so it proved a steep learning curve trying to work out how Westminster worked from scratch. Campaigning can be very lonely, stressful, and tough, but my amazing grassroots team of campaigners and I got Lucy's Law passed after 10 years of not giving up so I'm very proud of that.
Thank you for becoming a member of Sussex Wildlife Trust.
No problem. Seriously impressed with everything you guys put out, social media posts, and your welcome pack is so impressive. Makes me love living in Sussex even more. I plan to visit every one of your reserves over the next year or so, all those new nature trails, full of new adventures. Sussex really does tick every box: Sea, Downs, so much beautiful countryside to explore, help protect, and be extremely proud of sharing with others, especially the wildlife.
Where are your favourite wild places in Sussex?
I'm a bit obsessed with Cuckmere Haven, and also love visiting Friston Forest, and Devil's Dyke as well.
What do you love most in nature?
The sound of Skylarks at the Cuckmere in summer, so immediately calming. The swirling murmuration of starlings around the Palace Pier in winter. Also, exploring rockpools and listening to waves.
For me, appreciating nature is seeing stuff you already love, but also being pleasantly surprised by animals and plants you didn't expect to see.
To find out more about Marc and his campaigning work helping animals, follow @marcthevet on Twitter, 'Marc the Vet' on Facebook, or visit marcthevet.com