Why have I ended up with this task? Partly because no one else has come forward to take the job on, partly because I have the professional background. Before being engulfed in campaign work, I worked for 15 years as a journalist, beginning as a trainee on the Hereford Times and Llanelli Star newspaper in South Wales, getting fully qualified with the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ), being music/arts editor of first the Gloucestershire Echo in Cheltenham, then the Western Daily Press in Bristol, followed by a freelance career which included sub-editing and writing for the Guardian, Independent, Sunday Mirror, Record Collector and other national titles.
At the same time, my roots and passion lie with the Forest of Dean (although not born in the Forest myself, my father’s side of the family have been in the Yorkley, Pillowell, Whitecroft, Bream area for many generations) and it was shortly after I moved back to the Forest that I took up campaigning.
Campaigners don’t generally expect financial reward for what they do – but the reason I’m launching this appeal is because I can’t see how I can continue without earning any income. I am using my professional expertise and training and providing a service, which needs to be paid out of personal necessity.
I hope this doesn’t sound conceited but I reckon I’m worth it. There are a great many supporters as passionate as I am about this cause who don’t have the time, energy or skills to put in what I’ve done and continue to do.
The campaign work is now full-time, sometimes well over 40 hours per week of predominantly research, and consulting with experts in various relevant fields, plus ensuring the research is watertight and backed up with credible sources.