I was born and raised in the wild uplands of Geltsdale in the Northern Pennines where my dad worked as Head Warden of the second largest RSPB nature reserve. I was very fortunate to have this 12,000 acre 'classroom' which was the base for my early studies of the natural world. My father has taught me a lot of what I know about wildlife and is the perfect role model with his passion and commitment to the natural world.
Birds of prey were my first real love, and the iconic Golden Eagle inspired me after my first views of one cresting a mountainous skyline on the west of Scotland. Observing raptors like Hen Harriers, Short-eared Owls and Eagle Owls on local moors fuelled my passion and losing these birds to criminal activity targeted my heart, which was very important in my development as it increased my urgency and commitment to nature. The injustice of illegal persecution in our countryside continues to spur me on to make a positive contribution to British wildlife.
I have worked in the wildlife tourism industry for the last five years based on the Isle of Mull as a Wildlife Guide for Sea Life Surveys. During my time crewing I learnt a huge amount about every aspect of the wildlife tourism industry from James and Richard Fairbairns. I worked my way up to Head Guide where my responsibilities consisted of providing an education on Hebridean marine life and conducting research on the species.
The wildlife tourism sector is something I am passionate about due to the benefits it can provide to a rural location and its natural heritage. It can create this wonderful situation where predators have more value when conserved and protected because of the demand to observe them in a wild state. When you protect the top predator you are also protecting their habitat and the cascading species in the ecosystem. The increase in rural visitors can contribute broadly to the economy, and on a place like Mull, tourism is its lifeblood, as it is connected to over 80% of the islands communities.
I want to use Share Nature to encourage more people to connect with the natural world. When working in eco-tourism you are provided with this wonderful opportunity to share your love for nature and attempt to educate people for the benefit of wildlife and conservation. British wildlife has shaped my whole life and given me so much happiness and reward, that I am always aspiring to give something back to my natural heritage.