Interviewing Alick Simmons

Alick Simmons is a veterinarian, naturalist and photographer. After a period in private practice, he followed a 35-year career as a Government veterinarian, latterly as the UK Government’s Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer.

Alick’s lifelong passion is wildlife; he volunteers for the RSPB and NE in Somerset, is chair of the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare, a member of the Wild Animal Welfare Committee and a trustee of Dorset Wildlife Trust. A particular interest of his is the ethics of wildlife management and welfare.

I met Alick Simmons for the first time at the Wild Animal Welfare Committee (WAWC) conference in Edinburgh in March this year. We ‘bonded’ over his photographs of local moths and not-so-local birds he’d seen on a recent trip to Morocco, and despite our immeasurably different life choices discovered things in common (a love of wildlife being one).

Like all the key players at the conference I found Alick friendly, thoughtful and open to questions and debate. We agreed to meet up at a later date to discuss what WAWC is trying to do and mull over what has been a fascinating career. That meeting took place this week, at Alick’s home in rural Somerset.

I have to admit that whilst I was really looking forward to the conversation, I was a touch daunted by Alick’s experience and knowledge. I mean, this is a man who (via Belize and Australia) found himself at the heart of tackling the BSE or ‘mad cow’ crisis and was there during the early days of decisions regarding the badger cull. Alick is a scientist and vet as comfortable discussing spoligotypes [good luck if you follow that link] and talking with politicians as he is talking about Cream-coloured Coursers and Common Crane reintroductions with a birder.

I needn’t have worried (I rarely ‘need to have worried’ actually, but there’s nothing like ‘imposter syndrome‘ and self doubt to keep you on your toes). We set up what would become the basis of the interview in the morning, then had lunch. It was clear from the outset that Alick is someone who likes to be challenged and likes to think on his feet. We sat down to record later that afternoon, interrupted only when Alick’s cat wandered in and demanded his attention.

I’m not sure how much (or how little) will need to be edited as I was concentrating so hard on what we were talking about that I don’t actually remember the entire conversation – and if that sounds unlikely or even unprofessional, I’m willing to bet that many of us get so wrapped up ‘in the moment’ that time seems to pass in an instant yet back in reality hours have passed. Time flies etc etc..

I guess I’m fortunate that before publishing these podcasts I get to go back over every word at a later date, save the best bits, edit around my stumbles, and quietly delete the least comprehensible passages as if they simply never existed! Journalism eh…

Anyway, I’ll be editing asap, and uploading to Lush Player.

2 thoughts on “Interviewing Alick Simmons”

  1. I’ll happily take that as an endorsement Alick! Thanks again for your time and all the best

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