We meet Rowan Bunney, Assistant Manager for Rye Harbour Discovery Centre

, 03 February 2022
We meet Rowan Bunney, Assistant Manager for Rye Harbour Discovery Centre
Rowan Bunney © Barry Yates

Interview by Emma Chaplin

Tell us about yourself

I was born in Bexhill, where I live now, so I grew up in Sussex. I left for a few years to study Fine Art at the University of Westminster. My partner is from Devon so we weighed up where to live, and decided it was here. I'm a runner and love being able to get to the sea within 30 seconds of leaving my front door.

And your role in the Discovery Centre?

I'm really enjoying it. It's quite wide-ranging. I'm often moving in different places around the Discovery Centre carrying out building maintenance and other tasks. My job involves a balance between customer service, administration and some facilities management, and I need to be able to do all those things at the same time really. I support the Centre Manager Katie (Underwood) and spend a lot of time considering the shop, keeping it stocked and looking at potential suppliers. Day to day I'm also helping to looking after staff, volunteers and visitors.

Tell us about the shop and how you're developing it

We want the shop to be full of things that encourage curiosity about the nature reserve and the wildlife around us. We aim for a balance between items aimed at bird watchers such as wildlife guides and binoculars, and a lighter touch for other people who want to know more, as well as wildlife inspired books and games for children. The nature reserve is the whole reason we're here. We want to offer information in terms of books and field guides and also offer products that address environmental concerns, such as eco homewares, and items that might help to reduce single use plastics. We don't want to stock things that damage the environment. The shop should reflect the ethos of Sussex Wildlife Trust in terms of encouraging care and curiosity towards the natural world.

What do you enjoy about working on a nature reserve?

It's amazing! The view from the centre changes all the time. I'm watching the Golden Plover murmuration out of the window as we speak. The people we work with, colleagues, volunteers, and Friends of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve know so much about this place and are really generous with their time and knowledge which is really valuable.

What qualities do you need to do your job?

You need to be flexible, adaptable and have a good sense of humour. I'm a practical person and you need to be because sometimes things need fixing here, which is inevitable with a building so close to the sea. The elements here are so strong.

Tell us something about you we don't know

I love growing things, especially edible things on my allotment, and outside of work I'm currently studying for an RHS Horticultural Diploma with Plumpton College.

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