My passion for wildlife was stimulated in my teenage years, mainly thanks to my Mum (a biology teacher) who made me look at the world differently and being inspired by writers such as Paul Colinvaux. This early interest developed into biological research in my 20s, when I did practical conservation work in places such as the Comores and Mongolia.
Today, any free time I have I spend pottering around the flatlands of East Anglia or escaping to our hut on the Northumberland coast looking for wildlife and castles with my wife and children.
I studied Biological Sciences at Oxford and Conservation at UCL, and worked at Wildlife and Countryside Link before spending five years as Conservation Director at Plantlife.
I joined the RSPB as Head of Government Affairs in 2004, became Head of Sustainable Development in 2006, before becoming Conservation Director in 2011.
On Saturday 360 people gave up their day to attend the RSPB’s AGM in central London. All were RSPB members and most were active volunteers.
From our President to our Chair, Treasurer and our other trustees, to those that run our local groups across the UK or take part in our Phoenix Forum for teenagers, all give up their time and help us grow support to allow the RSPB to have the impact it does.
In total, our charity benefits from the support provided by nearly one and a quarter million members and just under a million hours given free by our volunteers. These are big numbers and is why we are able to do what we do.
RSPB Abernethy nature reserve made possible thanks to RSPB members, volunteers and staff (photo by Chris Gomersall, rspb-images.com)
It’s right, therefore, that every year at our AGM we give awards to our most dedicated volunteers as we did on Saturday.
Those of us that are lucky enough to be paid to work for the charity know that we are servants of our amazing members. And our job is to ensure we work together with our volunteers to have the biggest impact for nature.
But, new data protection rules which come into force next year will affect how we stay in touch with our supporters which is why a big theme running through Saturday’s AGM was asking our members and supporters to opt in to hearing from us.
We’ve included details about how members can remain connected in the latest issue of Nature’s Home magazine which drops on people’s doormats this month. We have set up a webpage – rspb.org.uk/yes – to make it easy for people to tell us how they want to keep in touch on their terms.
The new rules are designed to give people more control over their relationship with charities and business. This must be right and we want to do whatever we can to keep our supporters connected to us so that together we can continue to do amazing things for nature – from taking part in our campaigns, doing practical conservation work, raising money or even taking part in Big Garden Birdwatch.
We have only until May 2018 to get our existing members and supporters to make their opt-in choices, after which new regulations come into force. If you are one of these supporters and haven’t opted in by May and given your express permission for us to contact you, then we won’t be able to keep in touch directly (other than through our correspondence about your membership and through Nature’s Home).
So, please do say yes to the RSPB so we can keep in touch with you about our work.
And, please do the same for all those other nature conservation charities you might support. We need to stay together to help save nature.
Three volunteers: from right to left, here are the past (Ian Darling), present (Professor Steve Ormerod) and future (Kevin Cox) Chairs of the RSPB Council of trustees
Fair point, Tweetie. As you imply, you can choose to receive updates from us either by post, phone or email or a combination of all three. Alas I am not sure if beyond that you can choose to only receive certain communications. However we do try and target information to people we think will be interested. I'll ask our team if there is anything else you can do to receive the communications you want. Best wishes, Martin
I think they need to give us more info on what we are being told to say 'Yes' to. Just because I am a member it doesn't mean I want all the appeals, raffles and junk mail. I would like to have the choice of saying Yes to some things and No to others, and maybe some by email and some by post. It's a bit 'All or nothing' and I feel a bit in the dark.
That's correct, Rob.
Assuming some members don't respond, presumably the default is, 'No'?