Chris is an enthusiastic supporter of many wildlife, conservation or environmental charities. He gives generously of his time to travel widely helping motivate, inform, educate and enthuse. As you can imagine, he’s not one for pulling punches, and this sometimes means that he can help those charities by going a few steps further than it would be practically or politically sensible for them to do themselves. Chris enjoys exciting people’s passion, he does not mind playing the devil’s advocate once in a while because he firmly believes that whatever the method we choose to use as individuals, groups, charities or communities it’s the result that counts.
Please check out the links for more information, and seriously consider getting involved, joining and contributing to those where you either have a direct interest or an ability to make a difference.
The Bat Conservation Trust
2006 till the present
Chris recently undertook this position as he has had a lifelong interest in bats and is keen to help bring this often misunderstood and misrepresented group of animals to the forefront of contemporary conservation.
The Hampshire Water Festival
2005 till the present
Chris has been swimming in, bathing in and drinking his beloved Hampshire water since he was born, and given that home is where the heart is he is very keen on his county’s conservation and keeping it wet in the right places is an absolute priority.
The Hampshire Ornithological Society
2000 till the present
It was a tremendous honour to be asked to assume the position of president of this society as those who preceded him list amongst the most eminent ornithologists of all time. The society does invaluable recording work and produces an exceptional annual Bird report and very good newsletters. The website can be a forum for some pretty heated debate so it’s always worth a look! Unless you are Lee Evans!
The Southampton Natural History Society
2006 till the present
At the behest of his parents who feared that he was becoming a social outcast Chris was dragged, literally, to one of the society’s field meetings when he was 10 or 11. As a punk rocker he later gave a lecture to the assembled members which some remember more for his outrageous physical appearance than for all the things he told them about the local Kestrels. They gave him £25 . . . he spent it on peanuts which he fed to badgers to help him measure their territories. There’s lots of history and it’s a great honour for the local lad to be the post punk president!
Hawk and Owl Trust
Chris joined this charity as a member way back in 1975 and has been a keen and active supporter ever since. Now its new president, he is spearheading the Trust’s campaign to stop persecution of birds of prey in the wild, something that he feels very passionately about. The Trust runs excellent research initiatives and has contributed tremendously to the conservation of many of our raptors and owls.
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I was recently invited to become a new Vice President of the RSPB and duly accepted. Of course it was a great honour, the charity is a formidable force in conservation in the UK, indeed globally, and like many I have been a keen and long term supporter. When I think back to those days cycling around Hampshire, my Boots binoculars bouncing around my handlebars, my rain soaked ‘Heinzel, Fitter and Parslow’ in my Parka pocket, thinking that the first Grey Wagtail I’d seen was an adult male Baltimore Oriole I’d have fallen off if I had even dared to dream that I would one day open a letter from Ian Newton, one of my lifetime heroes and mentors, containing such an offer! I shall do my best to represent them and to play any small role I can at this interesting and challenging time in their history. Just don’t tell anyone that I still struggle every spring to separate and re-learn the songs of Blackcap, Garden Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat! I don’t know what’s wrong with me, I’m fairly good visually – once I’ve seen a bird anywhere on earth I’ll remember it and its name – but those songs . . . To me it’s all a lot of scratchy, twittery notes! I blame the Sex Pistols, the Ramones and the Undertones for damaging my sound sense!
2006 till the present
One of the most dynamic, inventive and productive of our ‘new’ conservation charities the quality of their published material is simply unrivalled as is the quality of their survey work, recording and censusing. This charity has a really good feel to it and a lot a really good people working for it both in a professional and voluntary capacity.
The Wildfowl and Wetland Trust
2006 till the present
What can you say? Sir Peter Scott – one of the great forefathers of the conservation movement. Chris had the privilege of meeting Sir Peter and his wife Lady Scott who survives him many times and served as a trustee for several years before accepting this post. The charity has a fantastic network of reserves and centres but the jewel in its crown, a triumph of contemporary conservation , is the London Wetland Centre. It is a simply awesome achievement and a great legacy to a great man and the many in the charity who now follow in his footsteps.
Hawk Conservancy Trust
Chris is a sort of trustee for the Hawk Conservancy Trust at Weyhill in Hampshire. He has been visiting the collection here since his early teens and has a tremendous respect for the Smith family who have done such an incredible job building up the centre and now this exciting and dynamic charity. Ashley Smith and his team preside over what is definitely the best presented bird of prey park anywhere in the UK. There is a bird hospital, great educational facilities, lots of practical conservation and research and it’s a wonderful place to visit on a day out. If you like birds of prey this is the place for you.
Grace Secondary School
The Sudan is arguably the most educationally needy place in today’s world. Only 2% of the population in Southern Sudan have completed their primary school education. Literacy levels are estimated at between 10 and 15%. This is the legacy of a 21-year civil war. We are raising funds to build a secondary school in the remote Nuba Mountains of the Sudan – The Grace Secondary School.
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I have the great fortune to visit many conservation projects around the world and AfriCat is in the premiership. Its whole ethos is founded upon securing practical solutions to problems in the field. It’s about really making a difference, not talking about it. It’s about intelligent and effective solutions being implemented now, not tomorrow. And its new initiatives are more exciting than ever, releasing rehabilitated animals into huge protected reserves where they are carefully studied and monitored. The standard of care is exemplary and our understanding of these creatures’ ecologies and behaviours is constantly being advanced here. A few more AfriCats and this continent’s unique fauna would be a lot better off. Please do whatever you can to support its work.
World Land Trust
I have known the work of the World Land Trust, and its CEO John Burton, almost since it was established in 1989 and share its philosophy in terms of working through in-country project partners and raising funds for them to purchase and protect threatened lands as nature reserves to protect their biodiversity. I was invited to become a Patron of the WLT in December 2012 and was delighted to accept, joining their other two patrons, Sir David Attenborough and David Gower. I feel I know a lot about the Trust already, speaking with John Burton and sharing many of his views on conservation priorities and population issues. John was always very supportive in the early days of my career and I have donated the Public Lending Rights in my books to the WLT’s Green Ink project for the past ten years.
The Sholing Valleys Study Centre
The Humane Research Trust
The NatureWatch Foundation
The Fleet Pond Society
The Disabled Birders Association
The Seahorse Trust
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New Forest Trust
The New Forest Trust campaigns to protect and preserve the people and the wildlife of this National Park, a place that Chris has wandered since he was a boy and now wanders daily with his dogs. A showcase for necessary modernisation to ensure survival in the 21st Century.
Wild Life Ark
The native Red Squirrel is in bigger trouble than most people realise with the very serious threat of disease hanging over its precarious future. This small charity is campaigning to address the threat by developing a vaccine, a novel but likely necessary conservation initiative.
Landlife Wildflowers provide an excellent source of UK produced seeds for you to plant if you want your own wildflower meadow. It doesn’t matter whether you’re space is as big as a tablecloth or half the county, they have a mix which will suit your soil, shade and requirements. They produce an excellent brochure, great backup and have a fantastic centre which is well worth a visit.