This music was inspired by an initial conversation with the composer in which moths began to feature prominently! The composer combined inspiration from the Sywell Aerodrome Women’s Meeting of 1931 which you can see on a British Pathé News video from the day itself Queens of the Air, and from the wildlife close by at Pitsford Water Nature Reserveand Brixworth Country Park.
I started my career at 16 as a beauty therapist and make-up artist, but by the time I was 20, I realised that path was not for me and enrolled on a media degree. Anyone who knows me knows how hilarious that is because I have a moderate dislike of technology and a strong dislike of most media. On my first day, all the tutors from all disciplines did a talk on their subjects. I was so inspired by the environmental sciences tutor that I changed courses that day and have never looked back.
Black Arches (Image by Mischa Cross)
Beauty Therapist/Make-up Artist This basically felt like the best option for someone who hated school and didn’t want to go to college. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good career and I loved the creativity of the make-up artistry–but being a bit of an introvert, it wasn’t really for me.
Bartender After leaving the beauty industry, I lived the student lifestyle for a bit, without actually being a student. It was a great time, and I made some fantastic friends that became like family.
Conservation Trainee After enrolling on my degree, I did a placement year as a Conservation Trainee with The Wildlife Trust Berks., Bucks and Oxon. It was a voluntary position–but I had my student loan to see me through, plus some waitressing–and it gave me the practical qualifications and skills to progress in a career in conservation. More than that, it gave me the reassurance that this was the career for me.
Seasonal Warden This was at Dunstable Downs in Bedfordshire. This is a very busy site, with lots of visitors throughout the year.Although much of my job was not actively carrying out conservation works, it taught me valuable lessons in the importance of people management in a countryside context.
Clifden nonpareil moth (Image by Dave Jackson)
Seasonal Conservation Contractor This was in Somerset. I worked with a fantastic team of people at sites all across the region; from the Quantock Hill, through the Somerset Levels to the Mendips. It was really tough work and long hours, but the strength of the team and the beauty of your surroundings helps keep spirits high.
Reserve Officer This is my current role and I have been here for 10 years. I absolutely love it. Having moved around a lot in previous roles, it is so nice to see the changes slowly taking shape from the work you are carrying out. We have a fantastic team of over 30 volunteers here who help carry out practical works like building boardwalks and hides, through to surveying the wildlife on site; everything from tiny microscopic algae to all the breeding and wintering birds. My specialism is the moths! I adore checking the traps every morning–it’s like Christmas because you are never quite sure what will be inside. Apart from the moths, we occasionally get butterflies, dragonflies, hornets and even a Blue Tit (who had munch on a few of the moths!). I often run events and it is great to see reactions to some of the colourful and impressive moths that many people don’t realise we have in this country.
Dark Arches (Image by Mischa Cross)
Just getting my degree and Postgraduate diploma are personal achievements because I don’t consider myself very academic.
Did You Know?
I spent 3 months volunteering in Madagascar. Unfortunately the conservation projects were cancelled when I arrived, so I helped on the humanitarian projects, involving singing songs in the local language about brushing teeth and washing hands – it included actions!
I did get to visit one of the last littoral forests in the area (probably not there now as a mining company were moving into the area) and I had a lemur land on my head and steal my banana (they were quite habituated to humans in this reserve).
Silver Y moth (Image by Mischa Cross)
AN INSPIRING WOMAN
Dian Fossey – and basically anyone who will devote their entire life, often in hostile environments, to the research and protection of wildlife. Dozens of rangers and activists are killed all the time trying to defend endangered species, rainforests and indigenous tribes. The worst I have to deal with is an angry dog walker who didn’t want to put their dog on a lead, so I am grateful and humbled by the devotion and bravery these people show in pursuit of a better world.