It’s not every day that BSBI welcomes a new staff member – and even rarer when we’re
talking about a brand new post! Late last year we advertised for our first ever
BSBI Fundraising Manager and after a long and rigorous interview process, we
appointed Sarah Woods. She started in post today, Monday 1st March, and I
couldn’t wait to interview her:
LM: So Sarah, welcome to BSBI! Would you like to tell us a
bit about yourself and what you were doing before you joined us?
SW: It’s incredibly exciting to be here, if all a little
surreal in the latter half of the pandemic! I’m a Somerset girl born and bred, currently
living in London with dreams of greener pastures. I originally got into
fundraising following my undergraduate degree in Cambridge, and it’s been
fantastically rewarding to put myself to use connecting people with causes they
care about, to the betterment of all.
I’m lucky that it’s also taken me to some exciting places –
including a trip to Hong Kong and Beijing, working at The National Theatre for
three years, and most recently looking after operations in the South East for
the UK’s leading Surf Therapy charity, The
Wave Project – helping young people improve their mental health and
resilience through surfing.
LM: That sounds like a real variety box of organisations!
Are there any similarities between working at an organisation like The National
Theatre and BSBI?
|Sarah on firewood duties in |
the Canadian Yukon, 2017
SW: The voluntary sector is a brilliant melting pot of
organisations and causes, but at the end of the day I think it comes down to
communities – I love people who are passionate about something, and I love
helping them express and work on that passion, whether that’s Shakespeare or species
of orchids. But I imagine there might
be fewer opportunities to bump into Judi Dench in the canteen here…
LM: Ah, I’m afraid we don’t even have a staff canteen, so your
opportunities for bumping into national treasures may be rather limited! But
there is a large and ever-expanding botanical community and you’ll certainly be
able to transfer some of those skills and that experience to your new role at
BSBI. So what’s your first priority for the next few weeks?
SW: I’m looking forward to meeting as many people as
possible who make BSBI tick and learning what the heart of the organisation is about; the welcome
from everyone I’ve spoken to so far has been incredibly warm.
LM: Botanists are a really friendly bunch! What about longer
term? What goals would you like to have achieved by the end of the summer?
|Not a bad campsite: on a canoe|
expedition with British Exploring on
Byglandsfjorden, Norway 2014
SW: With this role being new to the organisation, I want to
make sure it becomes embedded in moving the organisational strategy
forwards, but that it also builds on the great foundations that exist
currently. I’d like to have secured some exciting grant opportunities for new
and on-going projects, and to have started the process of making our great membership offering even more widely known.
Equally, I’d like to make it as easy as possible for as many people as possible
to support the work of BSBI, and to buy into our mission and vision. Wrapping
up the Atlas 2020 project is going to
be something that feeds into most of those goals.
LM: Is this a good moment to ask if you like wild flowers?
I’m assuming you aren’t going to say “eew no, can’t stand ‘em...” but of course
you don’t need to be a botanist to fundraise for the Botanical Society!
SW: My botanical knowledge is definitely at the beginner
level – but my father is an incredibly keen gardener, and growing up in the
countryside I can recognise a lot of verge and path-side plants by sight, so
I’m hoping I can seize the opportunity to learn from the best!
|Walking the Offa's Dyke Path|
with friends, 2019
LM: Ah that makes you the ideal person to try out some of
the resources we’ve been assembling in recent years, such as our helpful hints for getting started in
botany and our plant ID
page for beginners. I think the outdoors and nature are important to you
SW: Yes, the outdoors and nature are incredibly important to
me – where my ‘soul’ is happiest, I like to think – and with a name like
‘Woods’ I’m guessing that was true for my ancestors too. I’ve done a couple of
expeditions with the British
Exploring Society, and can’t wait to get back out into all the fantastic
landscapes that Britain and Ireland have to offer as soon as the restrictions allow.LM: Well don’t forget to visit some marshes - a much
maligned habitat, a bit soggy but with some great plants! Sarah, you told us at your
interview that you had attended last year’s BSBI
Exhibition Meeting and enjoyed it. So now you are on the staff, can I put
your name down for a short slot at this year’s meeting in
November, so you can tell everyone how you are getting on in the role?
SW: Absolutely – hopefully we can celebrate some great
achievements and the continuing generosity of this community.
LM: It’s a deal! And meanwhile, where can people reach you
if they are interested to learn more about BSBI’s development?
SW: My email address is email@example.com
and I’d be more than happy to hear from anyone who has thoughts or ideas on all
facets of BSBI’s charitable arm – from the membership and its benefits,
to funding opportunities we could pursue, to recruiting new supporters.
LM: Well good luck, keep us posted on how you’re getting on
and once again – welcome to the BSBI!
SW: Thank you!