I spent an idyllic childhood based around a sixteenth century farmhouse in the heart of rural Suffolk. This had a profound impact on my interest in wildlife conservation, historic architecture, gardening and open country pursuits. In 1983, at the age of 12, I won a national competition by compiling a report on the disappearing habitats of British butterflies. My prize was to travel out to the Luangwa valley in Zambia for a safari with naturalist David Bellamy and Sunday Times wildlife journalist and photographer Brian Jackman. Ironically, this was where my father had spent his early working life and where my two sisters were born. My father’s work took him all around the globe and as a result I have experienced a wide variety of different people and cultures throughout my childhood, but particularly from Kenya, Thailand and Poland where he had extended stays. During my twenties, I further developed my passion for travel and exploration by making three major trips through South America, Eastern Africa and the Far East. It is no surprise that I married someone from foreign shores - my wife was born and brought up in New Zealand and we now have two wonderful boys to share life with (picture probably already out of date).

In addition to Suffolk, I have also lived in Sussex, Cumbria, London, Kent and Norfolk, but now reside in north Essex within sight of the Stour estuary. This has been a home-coming of sorts for me where I can enjoy the beauty of the arable countryside just as I did when I was younger. I like to run, cycle and play tennis regularly but through a healthy respect for self-preservation, I now only watch football, rugby and cricket as a passionate armchair supporter. In my mind there is nothing better than getting some fresh air during a brisk walk in the countryside but this should be rewarded by a pint of real ale in an authentic public house.

I have been fortunate enough to inherit a garden planted by an enthusiast over 50 years ago and this is only now coming to maturity. My wife and I are adding to this by designing and planting formal herbaceous borders lined by yew hedges, a kitchen garden, an orchard with flower meadow and a gravel garden. We continue to plant specimen trees for future generations to admire including Giant and Coastal Redwoods, Magnolias and a Gingko. I have lifetime membership of the National Trust.