Feature

The Attenborough Treatment: AWC Chief Executive visits London

05 Apr. 2024

By Lizzy Crotty, Head of Development Australian Wildlife Conservancy UK (AWC UK)

Last week Australian Wildlife Conservancy’s (AWC) Chief Executive, Tim Allard, traded sunny Perth for some typical Spring drizzle here in London. But Tim wasn’t visiting us for our waterlogged parks – his focus was on AWC’s strategic priority to develop and connect with overseas networks.

The Australian continent is home to just 0.33% of the world’s human population, but supports almost 10% of the world’s plant and animal species, placing a huge responsibility in the hands of just 26.6 million people! Although the southern hemisphere boasts some of the world’s most biodiverse regions, the majority of global wealth lies in the northern hemisphere. Engaging and mobilising international audiences to invest in Australian conversation initiatives is critical to effectively protect areas of significant biodiversity value.

This is where international collaboration, such as that between Australian Wildlife Conservancy UK (AWC UK) and Australian Wildlife Conservancy USA (AWC USA), plays a key role in increasing our impact for conservation projects on the ground to protect Australia’s wildlife and habitats. Several members of the AWC USA Board, and the AWC USA Managing Director, joined Tim and I in London to support this shared initiative. Tim assured me that he was caffeinated enough to negate the jetlag, which was fortunate for our jam-packed schedule consisting of supporter meetings, a series of functions, and a very, very special morning tea with one of my personal heroes!

 

Highlights of the week

AWC UK event at The Australian High Commission

On Tuesday 19 March, the Australian High Commission hosted AWC UK for a function in the iconic Exhibition Hall (aka Gringotts Bank for the Harry Potter fans). Our event, Why Wildlife Matters: restoring nature in Australia, hosted 100 people and featured some brilliant Australians from across the country. The Deputy High Commissioner, Elisabeth Bowes PSM from Queensland (QLD), gave opening remarks while we enjoyed some delicious Western Australian (WA) wine kindly donated by the office of the WA Agent-General, John Langoulant AO.

Venturing beyond this Australian theme was our guest speaker, renowned British conservationist and BBC presenter Michaela Strachan. Michaela’s background in global conservation provided an insightful international perspective, as she inquired about AWC’s work and Australia’s wildlife in ways that would likely differ from an Australian interviewer. Tim and Michaela took the audience on a journey through AWC’s sanctuaries, discussing topics from Gouldian Finch chicks and wildfire recovery, to the key pillars of a successful conservation partnership. The event was a wonderful opportunity to connect with AWC supporters and conservation enthusiasts, inspiring us all about the future of Australia’s wildlife.

Tim Allard, Lizzy Crotty With Michaela Strachan
The audience enjoyed hearing from much-loved wildlife presenter, Michaela Strachan (left).
Connecting with our international counterparts

Another highlight from this week was hosting the AWC team from across the pond. On Wednesday morning, Tim and I had the pleasure of walking through Hyde Park with AWC USA Board members Joanne Pickhaver and Christine Zorzi-Wynne, as well as AWC USA Managing Director Anne Krumme. It was extra special that the USA team’s children joined us for our walk and talk, as we all enjoyed a coffee on the Serpentine in the fleeting sunshine.

Hosting the next generation of conservationists.
Collaborative Board breakfast

An early start on Thursday morning kicked off with a collaborative breakfast between AWC UK and AWC USA Board members, along with three representatives from the AWC Ambassador group. This provided an opportunity to meet, connect, and develop strategic frameworks for engaging and educating international audiences on the importance of Australia’s wildlife. Tim presented AWC’s strategic focus moving forward, while Anne and I shared the fundraising outlook of our respective international markets. This was a fantastic opportunity to meet in person fostering a greater sense of community and international collaboration through inspiring and engaging conversations as we look toward the future.

A valuable opportunity for international collaboration.
Morning tea with a conservation legend

Undoubtedly, the absolute highlight of the week was morning tea at Sir David Attenborough’s home with his daughter and Tim (this being the second time I’ve had the privilege!). We spoke about Australia’s vastness, the current state of nature globally and reflected on AWC’s history and successes from the past 33 years. Sir David also shared fond memories of AWC’s founder, Martin Copley, and his remarkable contribution to conservation. He was delighted to watch a short video from AWC wildlife ecologist, Larissa Potter, and Dambimangari ranger Azarnia Malay, thanking Sir David for his contribution to conservation and his ongoing support for AWC throughout the years.

Sir David Attenborough with AWC' Tim Allard and AWC UK's Lizzy Crotty
A morning tea to remember!
Notebooks launch with British artist and AWC UK supporter, Philip Hughes

Later that same day, Tim and I attended the launch of Notebooks by artist Philip Hughes CBE. Phillip has been a proud supporter of AWC for many years, following a visit to Kalamurina Wildlife Sanctuary in South Australia in 2011. Tim was invited to speak about the landscapes that inspired Philip’s artwork featured in Notebooks and shared the remarkable transformation he witnessed on the shores of Kati-Thanda Lake Eyre during a once-in-a-decade flooding event.

Australia’s vast open landscapes inspire artists from around the world.
Visit to Knepp Rewilding Estate and Derek Gow on wolves

To round off the week, Tim and I were invited to visit the remarkable Knepp Rewilding Estate in West Sussex, often referred to as the birthplace of rewilding in the UK. We were shown around Knepp by owner Sir Charlie Burrell and witnessed the remarkable difference between areas on the property which had been rewilded from active farmland. In the evening we had a delicious dinner at their restaurant, Wilding Kitchen, and learnt about Derek Gow’s new book which explores the rewilding of wolves in Europe and why they have been demonised throughout the centuries. Excitingly, Charlie and Isabella Tree were kind enough to host us at their home in the castle on Knepp Estate. I can now tick off my childhood dream of sleeping in a castle!

Isabella Tree, Tim Allard, Derek Gow, Lizzy Crotty, Charlie Burrell
Eating from the field at the Wilding Kitchen. From left: Isabella Tree, Tim Allard, Derek Gow, Lizzy Crotty, Charlie Burrell.

Overall the week was incredibly fulfilling and inspiring, as we had the privilege of engaging and connecting with so many passionate individuals. I am incredibly grateful to Tim for taking the time to travel to the UK in support of AWC’s ongoing commitment to expand our global fundraising impact. I extend this gratitude to the AWC UK and AWC USA Boards respectively, and of course to our network of generous donors, volunteers and friends across the globe, without you our work wouldn’t be possible.

 

Australian Wildlife Conservancy UK is a registered charity in England and Wales, and is dedicated to supporting AWC’s important work of securing a future for our threatened species.

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