Biography

Writer, editor, and nature conservationist

I was born in London, brought up in Kent and have lived in North Lancashire, Huntingdonshire and, since 1999, West Yorkshire. My passion for wildlife dates back to very early childhood in London, as I explain in The Long Spring:

“A small group of black-headed gulls appeared in the air alongside our balcony one hard winter …. I saw in them a power and a delicacy, athletic and balletic, and the pearly tints of the London sky. I saw the infinite versions of themselves they shaped from each tail-twist and every stall and jerk of their wings. They left us, and the next day we waited for them to come, but they never did. I became a birdwatcher, and the local ducks grew fat on sliced white bread.”

I have worked for the RSPB since 1983, in a wide variety of roles, from managing nature reserves to advocating global treaties. I spent ten years as the RSPB’s Director for Northern England and now work as part of a multi-organisation team collaborating on an ambitious species recovery programme, Back from the Brink. This brings together eight partner organisations and many more delivery partners to collaborate on saving over 200 species ranging from mosses to orchids, moths to birds and bats.

As a composer, I have had pieces performed at concerts and festivals throughout the UK and in the Netherlands. Saequale for trombone septet was a finalist in the 2011 European Trombone Festival in Rotterdam, and the following year Clouds, rock for solo harp was awarded two prizes at the Dutch Harp Festival in Utrecht. I am currently taking an extended break from composing, but intend to return.

As a writer, my main interest is in “exploring the joints between nature, culture and conservation.” The Long Spring, an account of a series of journeys I undertook tracking the arrival of spring from North Africa to Arctic Norway, was published in March 2018, and I am currently working on a book comprising literary portraits of species of conservation and cultural interest.

Behind the scenes, I am active in the arts as a Board Member of CoMA – Contemporary Music for All, a former Board Member of the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, and a business adviser to arts charities. I am enthusiastic about collaborating with other artists inspired by the natural world and the Projects page lists some examples of my solo and collaborative work.