Sponsored cycle ride for Shark Trust

I don’t normally write about things that aren’t related to thinking about/making/uploading podcasts – but I’d like to appeal to the goodwill of the visitors to this blog.

I’m doing the Bristol Nightrider 2019 for the Shark Trust on July 6th (next weekend as I write this) and I would really love some extra sponsorship.

Now I know most of us already donate to various charity stuff (heck, this year I’ve given to Hen Harriers and badgers, supported judicial reviews, and I pay my monthly subs to a bunch of charities etc ) and I know most of us don’t end the month with much left to spend from our salaries (many of us flirt with our overdrafts I’m sure), nevertheless, if I don’t make this pitch I don’t give you the opportunity to perhaps support something you’ve thought about supporting – like, sharks!

So, the Nightrider. It’s – er, at night, and it’s around Bristol. Which if you don’t know the city is a pretty hilly place (not Buxton or Edinburgh hilly, but way hillier than Cambridge or Peterborough). I’ve opted for the ‘blue route’ 100km/65 mile route, rather than the ‘red’ 50km route which (and no offence to non-regular cyclists) is a training ride or commute for many cyclists. The ‘blue route’ takes in both loops and the organisers seem to have looked for every incline within miles (see the image below)…

Now, I know that 100km is NOT Lands End – John O’Groats (which is around 2000km). It’s not especially difficult if you ride bikes a lot (and I do) but that’s what I’m being asked to do, so that’s what I’m doing. To be honest, I’ve never ridden at night before, so that should be an extra element. And it traverses Bristol city centre on Saturday night, which might be – er, interesting when the clubs spill out…

But Bristol is hardly downtown Caracas or Bogota. There’ll be hundreds of other riders, it’s well signed, the organisers even lay on biscuits. So it’s not going to be life-changing or dangerous. It should be fun though, and a different way to spend a Saturday night (my start time is 23:50 so I’ll be finishing sometime around dawn on Sunday hopefully). The important point is though that any/all funds raised will go to the Shark Trust. They’re a small charity, and every penny counts. (I made a podcast with them last week which you can find at Paul Cox | Shark Trust if you’d like to know more about them)

And – seriously – every single penny would help.

So if you feel like chucking a single penny into the hat (as it were) please have a look at https://www.sharktrust.org/fundraisers/charlie-moores-shark-trust-fundraiser

And thanks!

Dominic Dyer and the Bristol Nats

Chatting with Mark Avery about Wild Justice and Dominic Dyer about – well, loads of things, in the same week? My podcasting cup truly runneth over.

I have a huge amount of regard for both Mark and Dominic. They’re very different individuals of course, but both are intelligent, focussed conservationists. Dominic (we concluded as the sun sunk over the yard arm) has ‘street smarts’. He’s also honed his speaking style so it flows and loops back on itself with nary a hesitation or deviation (if he was on ‘Just a Minute‘ he’d win the round with ease every single time), but still has a great knack of being the ‘everyman’ despite a CV that include high-profile roles in industry, leading marches through London, taking tea with politicians, and steering the Badger Trust through the mass slaughter of what is supposed to be a highly-protected mammal.

Anyway, Dominic and I met up in Bristol, prior to his talk at the AGM of the venerable Bristol Naturalist’s Society (which was founded in 1862 and ‘exists to stimulate a greater awareness of natural history and geology in the Bristol area’). We meet up fairly regularly, and it’s always inspiring and interesting. We set the world to rights, firm up schedules, roll our eyes about the mess politicians have made of Brexit, and bemoan the current lack of opportunities for journalists to write about the environmental issues that we’re both most concerned about.

One ‘schedule’ we are looking at, incidentally, is a series of new conservation/environmental discussion-based podcasts that would look very much like a ‘town hall debate’ with me in the chair.

I have the location, the equipment, and the skills to record and produce the debates and a broad range of contacts who might take part, whilst Dominic has the knowledge to be an expert ‘semi-permanent’ contributor and an even broader range of contacts who would take part solely based on his say-so (at least that’s what we think!). We’re now going to go away and work out the first three or four ‘debates’, contact potential guests, and organise the dates. If that interests you, I’ll post updates right here.

To end this short post I’d like to just reflect on Dominic’s talk, which was on the politics of wildlife protection (and forgive the above photo: Bristol Nats use a church hall in Westbury-on-Trym and I couldn’t help myself).

As I said, Dominic has a remarkably polished speaking style. Using ‘A People’s Manifesto for Wildlife‘ as a prop (and see the photo below), he wound a tale that took in the moon landings, Greta Thunberg, stats on policing costs for the badger cull that were released just thirty minutes before he started talking, the history of pesticides, and the Bristol Nats themselves, without a single ‘er’, ‘like’, ‘you know’, or ‘what I’m trying to say’ in 35 minutes.

Apologies for perhaps seeming to eulogise, but as someone who can’t approach a five-minute introduction without notes, in an abstract ‘observing how things work‘ kind of a way I find it fascinating to watch a skilled proponent like Dominic at work. All the more so because I know for a fact that an hour before he started he really wasn’t sure what he was going to say.

I’ve seen Mark Avery do the same thing. Chris Packham is a remarkably organised speaker too. It’s as if their thoughts and their speech centres are linked so closely they almost function in synchronicity. There are obvious parallels with stand up comedians who hold ninety minutes of well-rehearsed material in their heads but can still make it sound fresh (while having to adapt to interruptions and current events). I’m not sure it’s a skill you can learn. It can be refined but while you and I can get better at ‘delivering speeches’ if we practice, I do believe we’d never get as good at it.

Does that matter? I think so, because I know that many of us question what we can contribute to conservation, what we can do to help the dire situation the planet and its wildlife finds itself in. I’ve beaten myself up (metaphorically of course) many times because I just can’t speak like Dominic, Mark, or Chris. But maybe that’s not my ‘role’ (or yours).

My podcasts are my contribution. If you listen to them I barely feature in them. And that’s deliberate. They’re not supposed to be about me. They’re a platform for the ‘guest’. I want to hear what they think, what they dream of, what they work towards – and when they can’t do it without hesitation or deviation (and very, very few people can) I’ll edit it to make it sound like they can. Of course I’d like to be a charismatic orator – many of us would I guess and I’ll always give my best imitation if I’m asked to try – but that’s not my role. That doesn’t mean though that conservation doesn’t need what I can contribute.

And if you’re also beating yourself up about not being a Dominic, a Mark, or a Chris, please don’t. Discover what you can do, no matter how small or large, how trivial you might think it is, because conservation (desperately) needs whatever you can contribute too…

spreading the message Dominc Dyer style…