How Humpbacks got me out of my slump
The Genesis of the Big Blue Foundation
I’ve had a lifelong passion for wildlife, travel and adventure which has seen me leading group trekking trips in the Himalayas, managing SCUBA diving research in Fiji and riding my bike 3,000+ miles from London to Marrakech to raise money for an MPA project to protect Spinner dolphins. However, sometimes life has a funny way of taking us off our passion path.
Prior to the pandemic I was co-managing a luxury health and fitness business in Canterbury, but I was deeply unfulfilled and wanted to get back on track with my real purpose: marine conservation. By the end of 2020, the impact of the lockdowns on my mental health led to a diagnosis of mild depression. Trying hard to focus positively on the future, I planned a two week trip to Cabo Verde to clear my head and put together a plan for my future.
On my third attempt to leave the UK I finally made it, leading to a chance encounter with a Spanish cetacean researcher called Pedrin. The first conversation that we had ended up being a pivotal moment in my life. Taking a ferry from one island to another, I was warmly greeted by a team of local marine biologists, led by Pedrin. That same day I was watching (& listening to) Humpback whales breaching off the bow of the research vessel.
Within the week, I discovered that my life’s purpose is to collaborate with local communities on impactful marine conservation initiatives. I returned to the UK with an energy and drive that I’d not felt in over a decade.
The Humpbacks had got me out of my slump!
Arriving home, I couldn’t stop talking about my experiences. What was incredible to me was that the people that I talked to not only listened, but began pledging their support. My new neighbour Pete, a photographer and born connector, introduced me to Catherine Capon, a wildlife filmmaker and environmental campaigner. Soon afterwards, he connected me to Katie Clarke, Co-owner of ethical Accounting firm Clichq and all round conservation advocate. Catherine and Katie became two of our valued Trustees.
One of my ex-gym clients later introduced me to Dan Hulme, CEO of The Sports Trust and now the Chair of our Board. We were gathering momentum! Our founding team was complete when another chance encounter led to PhD student Melissa Schiele. Melissa’s input has been vital to our success and we were delighted when she accepted our offer to become our Chief Scientific Advisor.
We officially became a charity in 2023 and are launching our community-based initiatives now.
There are many wonderfully inspiring and generous people in this world and we are fortunate to be working alongside many of them, including our donors and friends old and new. Without the generosity of these people Big Blue Foundation would have remained a wild idea on a research boat in Cabo Verde. I am so thankful to be back on my passion path and am incredibly excited for this journey.