I was brought up in Surrey where I was enthused with the wildlife and beauty of the Surrey heaths. I travelled all over England to see sand lizards, Dartford warblers and silver-studded blue butterflies. I studied biology in Wales where I first came across National Nature Reserves, such as Oxwich and Whiteford Burrows.
I learned about the pastoral beauty of mid Wales and the rugged character of the North. I learned about farming, in the greatest agricultural research station in the world, Rothamsted, in the Cotswolds countryside and in the Welsh hills.
I was fortunate to work with the RSPB for 10 years, travelling across Europe and the rest of the world and making the case for nature in the corridors of power. I learned about the power of conservation science, the importance of a mixed portfolio of tools to achieve conservation and the ways to get your message across to decision-makers.
I then became a decision maker, with spells in English Nature and then Defra before moving to Derbyshire and taking on the demanding role of Chief Executive of the Peak District National Park, a role I was privileged to have done for 11 years until 2014.
I learned about the big influences over the landscape: farming, water, minerals. I learned about the planning system and how communities value the heritage and landscapes around them.