I’m an articulate communicator, lateral thinker and savvy activist. In my 30 years of campaigning I’ve changed minds, built movements and helped force changes to the law that have brought benefits for both planet and people.
I’m perhaps best known for championing sustainable food and farming in senior campaign director roles at Friends of the Earth and the Soil Association. I’m also the defiant individual who stepped down from his Head of Comms post at the Forestry Commission to pitch the Save our Forests campaign to 38 Degrees. My tactical approach and extensive network of environmental contacts helped stop the sell-off of our public woods; the arguments I set down in the Our Forests ‘vision document’ influenced a revised Government policy more in line with the aspirations of the people.
My work at Friends of the Earth put the charity at the forefront of challenging the commercialisation of GM crops in the UK. At the peak of my Soil Association career I held the position of Director of Communications and Campaigns, taking responsibility for all strategic comms and pioneering the organisation’s policy on food security. As a freelancer, I’ve worked extensively with Compassion in World Farming to highlight the perils of antibiotic misuse in factory farms – helping to build an international campaign alliance and secure reduction targets for certain EU Member State farms.
I’m an outspoken voice that won’t baulk in the face of controversy. If it needs to be said, I’ll say it – with sensitivity and tact when appropriate. Whether it’s flagging up the undeniable, if uncomfortable, connection between human population growth and environmental decline, or holding NGOs to account for overlooking the public interest, acting on principle is always my priority.
Robin is one of the most loyal people I know, with uncompromising values – which he has a forthright way of putting into practice!
Jonathon Porritt, CBE, co-founder of Forum for the Future and former director of Friends of the Earth
Maynard is no… knee-jerk activist. His naturally aggressive style is mixed with a disconcerting amount of intelligence and self-confidence… He and his fellows are obviously working from conviction rather than for lolly.
Simon Barnes, environmental correspondent for The Times (Taken from the article ‘For Peat’s Sake’, GQ magazine, 1991)
It’s not just decades of experience and outstanding communication skills that set me apart. I’ve worked in both the corporate and civil service sectors, as well as for NGOs. This means I bring a rare ‘insider’s perspective’ on the people, government bodies and organisations that may need to be targeted, challenged and won over
I understand which influencers you need to engage and how. I know how to identify your campaign ‘trigger points’, i.e. the actions that will bring about the greatest change for the least effort. And I have a knack of rooting out the unexpected angle that will take your campaign to another level.
We had a major coup at FARM, when we rang round all the insurance companies (including NFU Mutual!) to ask them if they would insure either a farmer growing GM crops against claims of contaminating his neighbours’ crop, or an affected non-GM farmer for such contamination. The responses Robin and his team winkled out of the insurance companies were dynamite for our campaign: ‘No. We categorise GM in the same risk level as asbestos, thalidomide, nuclear power plant leaks and acts of terrorism’. I cite this example as one demonstrating Robin’s creative, lateral thinking, campaign nous and nose for a story!
Zac Goldsmith MP, environmentalist and former editor of The Ecologist
Besides campaigning, I’m also an adept nature writer and broadcaster. A former producer and presenter of BBC Radio 4’s ‘Farming Today’, I was also commissioned by the BBC to undertake several investigative trips for ‘Costing the Earth’. These included visiting Bhopal, India, 10 years after the catastrophic explosion there at Union Carbide’s pesticide factory, and taking a trip deep up river in Sarawak, Borneo, to meet the indigenous tribes whose environment and livelihoods were threatened by logging and palm oil plantations.
My current, part-time role as Director of Community Programmes at Avon Wildlife Trust provides much scope for exploring my interest in the critical contribution nature makes to our mental and physical wellbeing. My job at the Trust focuses on delivering programmes that bring the benefits of first-hand contact with the natural world to local people.
I view nature not only as a core provider of public benefits and services, but essential to human health. A member of both the Wildlife Trust’s and Care Farming UK’s research groups on this issue, I’ve also experienced through my own daughter, Teal – who has Down Syndrome – the enormous benefits ecotherapies offer.
I’m a current trustee of the Countryside Restoration Trust and served in the same capacity previously for the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Population Matters. My love of nature also rules my leisure time. When I’m not working or riding tandem with daughter Teal, you’ll probably find me up at my allotment, beachcombing, birdwatching, wild swimming or up a tree…