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About me

 

Following short term appointments on Rum and in Orkney I moved into countryside recreation working as senior ranger at country parks in Central Scotland (Calderglen) and Cornwall (Mount Edgcumbe).  These were formative, exciting times but after 7 years of dealing with up to 400,000 visitors a year I got back into conservation management with the last intake of Wardens in the old Nature Conservancy Council.  At first I worked at Thorne Moors in Yorkshire – a lowland peat bog with no staff, no visitors and no budget – bliss!! I then managed to get back to Scotland - to Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve in Wester Ross.  This is the UK’s first ever NNR and I was responsible for all aspects of visitor management as well as managing Rassal Ashwood NNR.

In 1992 Scottish Natural Heritage (the Government conservation agency) was created and I became Area Officer for Wester Ross.  Eventually the rain and the midges got the better of me and I gained a secondment to Highland Council to lead an innovative project on community based interpretive planning. I was part of the team in the mid ‘90’s that wrote the renowned ‘Sense of Place’(follow link) interpretive planning handbook – I wrote the community section.  I also had fun organising a study visit for 10 like minded people to Idaho, Washington and Oregon to look at interpretation where we were hosted by the inimitable Sam Ham.  Sam has had a big influence on my thinking (and many others) since that time.

I returned to SNH and worked on EU funded projects and then came a big break!  I obtained a Thyne Scholarship to visit E Australia to study wildlife tourism in World Heritage Sites.  On my return, following an inspired piece of job creation I was appointed as the first staff member within SNH with a responsibility for tourism and was at the forefront of early developments in nature based tourism.  I undertook the first audit of visitor facilities on all of Scotland’s NNRs and commissioned and managed work looking at sustainable tourism within Protected Areas in Europe. 

Before going independent in 2007 I was Heritage Manager within Highlands and Islands Enterprise (regional development agency), where my role was to maximise the benefit communities gain from their heritage. I led HIE’s response to the Coastal and Marine National Park consultation undertaken by the Scottish Government. Two areas of work were highlights of this time.  I created a Challenge Fund to support 3 innovative approaches to the use of technology to link tourism and heritage.  This attracted over 50 applications and I accompanied the winners on a study visit to the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  I also chaired the largest interpretive conference ever held in the UK – the Vital Spark in Aviemore in October 2007 - attended by 330 delegates from around the World.  Summer 2017 I have been one of 2 people organising the joint IE/AHI Conference in Inverness with over 200 delegates - probably the 2nd biggest interpreters conference in the UK!

I have travelled extensively in the US and Europe, have spoken at events in Australia, Korea, Norway and Sweden.  I have worked throughout Scotland, in England and Northern Ireland and am currently working on projects in several parts of Norway and northern Sweden.