“Anyone can look good when things are going well, its what you do when times get difficult that show who you are”, Oliver Hill.
What is your job about?
My title is Environment Officer for the Environment Agency. I work in the community and I am involved locally in various different parts of the community in this region.
I live in the catchment area I look after. I want to inspire, influence and if necessary enforce caring for the stewardship of the catchment area of the river Tone and other waterways.
The purpose is to protect the catchment and also improve the quality of life of the invertebrates, fish, birds and plants. We do this by preventing pollution entering the water and reducing eutrophication. I work locally with the communities raising awareness and educating people on the issues. I educate farmers about the impact of their fertilizers and what they can do if they get into water ways.
What issues do you or did you address?
- Kerbside flooding from drains, the pollution runs into the waterways.
- Eutrophication is a huge issue, it kills everything.
- An issue we have all over Europe is that we are developing nitrate vulnerable zones (NVZ) in water catchment areas. Aquifers and surface water sites for extraction for drinking water are showing signs of NVZ which is not good for drinking. In the 1980’s we needed 20% of river water for drinking water today its 80% of the water.
What moved you to take action?
I think that everyone is interconnected. We aren’t separate form each other and we have realised this. Water connects us all. I have always believed this. I have two hats one as a civil servant and one as a father, but as a human being I think you have to be responsible I both areas. The more I learned the more I realized I needed to be responsible and inspire others to do the same.
What helped you keep going in hard times?
Because I was so shy I decided I wanted to explore life. I went on a journey to India I was flung into life, from being very awkward I realized that weaknesses can actually be our strengths. Once I realized that I used that to my advantage and went on to do things which would have scared me. India was very transformational for me. I say to myself that I am doing this for my kids, I’m making the world a better place for me, for them, for all of us. Anyone can look good when things are going well, its what you do when times get difficult that show who you are. Challenges are there to make us stronger.
What first prompted you to become interested in environmental issues and when was that?
I have always had an environmental awareness and sought to minimise my environmental impact and those around me by influencing, challenging incorrect views and leading by example.
When working for Surrey Fire and Rescue I organised for the fire station I worked at and the headquarters site to have a recycling collection, an example that was soon followed by the whole of Surrey’s Fire stations.
When living on a council estate, again I organised for the 4 blocks of flats to have a recycling collection, influencing the majority of the residents to enthusiastically join in.
I have since started work for the Environment Agency and in my spare time I have worked with the transition town movement to make a community orchard, and have, on my own initiative got a group of neighbours to restore a stream, and plant a community flower bed.
On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being very happy) where would you rate how you feel about your life?