Tell us a bit about yourself
I live on the Sussex Coast in East Preston with my partner Liz and our two Miniature Schnauzers. We moved here from London, and, having grown up on a sheep and beef hill country farm in a remote part of New Zealand, getting out of the city was always part of my journey. After 20 years working in both financial and marketing roles, in 2008 I moved to a portfolio career focusing on working with interesting organisations, including the charity sector, as a part time Finance Director.
I get real joy working with small, growing teams. One is a virtual company where the team is based in four different countries; which offers a wonderfully diverse dynamic.
How have you been coping with the Covid-19 crisis?
I've found it a great opportunity to slow down and allow focus, without the frenetic pace. I loved how quiet things become - nature became what we heard. Another benefit was we really started to get to know our neighbours. Being more of an introvert, lock down has been pretty seamless, but I did struggle a bit in mid-May when we should have been in New Zealand celebrating my mothers 80th. A Zoom party wasn’t quite how we had planned to celebrate her special day, but there was a lot of laughter.
How did you come to be a Sussex Wildlife Trust Trustee?
In late 2015 I actively sought ways to get more involved in Sussex and looked for opportunities to get involved with charities based in the county. Fortuitously Sussex Wildlife Trust were looking for a new Trustee Treasurer. The role brings together my finance skills with my childhood and life-long love of the outdoors and nature.
When and how did you develop an interest in wildlife and conservation?
Spending all my childhood outdoors on the farm, living with the seasons and the ebb and flow of food production gave me an awareness of the natural environment. My father has a keen interest in wildlife which rubbed off at an early age. It's a natural progression that my fascination with the natural world should lead to an interest in conservation.
Where are your favourite wild places to go, and what do you most enjoy seeing?
I love being by the seaside and in the hills. My favourite place, where I am happiest, is to be high up with views down over the ocean. I enjoy being up on the South Downs looking down to the Coast.
Where would you go to now if you could go anywhere, easily, and why
Given the Covid restrictions we currently live with, a trip to New Zealand to see my family and kiwi friends is definitely top of my list.
What do you like about being a trustee and what qualities do you bring?
I love being able to learn; more about nature and the environment we live in; learn about how people in the charitable sector have passion and motivation for what the organisation stands for, which is different from the commercial sector. This passion is infectious and creates a unique organisational culture. I hope I bring some wisdom from having worked in the commercial sector for many years as a counter-balance to the environmental and nature expertise around the Council table, together with some obvious professional skills.
What are the greatest challenges?
As a Trustee our role is governance, the hardest challenge is staying the right side of the line between operations and governance. Resisting the temptation to “roll up my sleeves” and get stuck in with helping is hard. I am naturally a “doer”. Sitting on my hands doesn’t come easily.
What would you say to someone joining as a new trustee, or thinking about it?
Don’t hesitate. If you have a connection or interest in something, don’t stand back and wait for “the right moment”. Seize the moment and give it a try. You will be surprised at what you can contribute and how rewarding it will be.
What are your thoughts on the future of wildlife in Sussex and beyond?
What a big question. The challenges are enormous, but every little thing counts and we can all do something at a local level that WILL make a difference to the environment we live in and this in turn will help the wildlife of Sussex. Habitat preservation is vital, and today is the day to start.
Linda with Bailey and Madison