Richard, Alison, James and Claire all share an active Christian faith, which underpins all that they do.
Richard graduated from Bath University in 1992 with a BSc in Biology and a PGCE. He then taught for 3 years in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea, and in his spare time studied birds of paradise in the rainforest. He assisted the BBC with their filming of Attenborough in Paradise, and is mentioned by Sir David Attenborough in his autobiography, “Life on air”.
Richard has learned bushcraft skills from tribal groups in Papua New Guinea. He has also been taught by Ray Mears and John Rhyder, and he is a qualified Advanced Bushcraft Practitioner (NCFE Level 3). He taught Science for 11 years at Uffculme School. He still plays fiddle with the Lucy Lastic Band.
Richard's favourite thing about Wildside is seeing the awe and wonder in people's faces when they have a "wow moment" in nature.
Alison grew up in the Blackdown Hills with a naturalist father. She spent a lot of time outdoors riding, walking and foraging for wild food. She became familiar with the natural history of this area from an early age, and developed a love of nature.
Alison ran a playgroup in Ireland for 5 years. Since then she has worked at Broadhembury Primary School and Uffculme School, where she met Richard. She is a qualified Forest School Leader (OCN Level 3).
Alison loves cooking, and she makes sure that the food served at Wildside is of a very high standard! She likes to encourage people to try new tastes - such as her homemade pesto as a vegetarian alternative to her delicious bolognaise! She bakes fresh bread for breakfast.
Alison's favourite thing about Wildside is hearing the sounds of happy children playing in the meadow.
Ever since he can remember, James has had a passion and interest in two things: nature and art. His early years were spent roaming the woods, drawing birds and playing with bows and arrows. As a young man, the arty side won, and instead of becoming a wildlife ranger in the depths of the Congo, he became a graphic designer instead, pushing things around a page and making things look nice.
A stint in the Territorial Army gave him some outdoor skills and relief from the desk job, but it wasn’t until he travelled to the Amazon in Brazil that he realised he knew very little about the natural world on his own doorstep. All of his spare time was then spent outdoors, hunting, foraging, running, spearfishing, tracking and learning more about the exciting world outside.
He has camped in Grizzly Bear country, trekked in the Himalaya, run 150 miles for fun in Turkey, made an English longbow out of Yew and once held his breath for 4 mins and 49 seconds. He did feel a bit dizzy after that though.
The thing he loves most about Wildside is that his job involves roaming the woods and playing with bows and arrows!
Claire has always enjoyed spending time outdoors and has fond childhood memories of making camps, hiking hills and playing games in as many different locations as possible.
Following university she spent a year exploring New Zealand where she worked on a sailboat, in a kiwi fruit orchard and on a vineyard. She also took part in a ten day trek and hiked up “Mount Doom” as part of the Tongariro Crossing. On her return she qualified as an Occupational Therapist where she learnt about the benefits of being involved in meaningful occupations for an individual’s health and wellbeing. Her own spare time became increasingly filled with outdoor activity and, more specifically, horticulture related tasks.
Claire spent the majority of 2013 volunteering on organic farms and smallholdings as part of the WWOOF scheme with her husband, James. One of the highlights was hand milking two jersey cows by hand every day (and eating all the butter, cream and cheese!). At the end of the year they travelled to Canada where she learnt how to cook over an open fire, camped under a tarpaulin and kayaked between the Broken Group Islands.
Her favourite thing about Wildside is laying under the tree canopy and listening to the sounds of the wood (oh, and searching for glowing mud!).