I spent a lot of my childhood on my grandparents farm, and by 1992, I had this need ‘to be outside somewhere with a great bunch of people’. Happily that’s exactly what BTCV offered, and I found myself at Hollybush Farm in Leeds working with John Preston.
Residential back then, I spent a very happy year living with 3 other VOs, going out on task around Leeds and Wakefield, and helping Lucy Wheeler getting Skelton Grange Environment Centre off the ground. I feel it’s such a privilege to still be working closely with Lucy and John 27 years later, also two of my dearest friends.
The rest is history I guess! Skelton Grange is no longer a portacabin in a field, but a thriving eco-building in a beautiful 10-acre nature reserve, that has supported over 200,000 people to connect with nature, improving learning, wellbeing and being a part of something special. It’s that which makes me love TCV – the wonderful staff, volunteers and visitors who find joy in being part of a community that care about nature and people, and genuinely make a difference. A real highlight for me was celebrating Skelton’s 25th anniversary, bringing hundreds of people back together from across the country and the 25 years to share in memories, music, food and the creation of a huge public art exhibition.
It’s now time to come back full circle, bringing together Hollybush and Skelton Grange, two of TCV’s biggest centres with an incredible team of people who make such a difference to the people and local environment – I’m really proud to work with them.