There are times when I lose sight of what I’m trying to achieve with Bird Therapy and as I’ve written on two recent blogs, it often has a lot to do with obsessing over social media. Not long ago, I posted a tweet, looking for reassurances that I should continue and a friend sent me a text message telling me to step-back and evaluate what I HAVE achieved rather than what I haven’t - imploring me to stop comparing myself to other people and to continue spreading the positive message. I wrote down what I had actually achieved up until that point and it was evident that the year had been a whirlwind of positivity, so, what better time to write about the incredible achievements of 2017 than at the end of the year itself.
The first thing I did in 2017, other than my constant writing toward a finished book – was to be asked to do a short interview on local radio station BBC Radio Norfolk about Bird Therapy. At the time I was without a car and the interviewer kindly picked me up from my house in the ‘radio car’ and took me to local wildlife site Sparham Pools, where we conducted the live interview. Another hugely exciting radio experience was being asked to record some ‘Tweets of the day’ for BBC Radio 4. I ended up recording three, which aired in June and July. I spoke about the Skylark, Woodlark and Nightingale and recorded them at our BBC Radio Norfolk studios.
Earth Optimism - Meeting Sir David Attenborough
In April, I was invited to speak at the ‘Earth Optimism’ event at Cambridge UCCRI. Held on Earth Day 2017, this worldwide event featured many well-known organisations and faces – including a closing speech by the great man himself, Sir David Attenborough. I did two half-hour talks, which went really well – each to an audience of 30 or so people. Between talks, I was given an unbelievable surprise by the lady that asked me to speak, Alison Harvey. She had put me down as one of the people for Sir David to talk to on one of his walk rounds. The most striking thing about meeting him was the fact that he was more interested when I said to him that the whole Bird Therapy idea was born from my own mental health experiences – to which he placed his hand on my arm and asked me, in that ever-familiar voice, to ‘tell him more about my mental health’ – which I duly obliged.
The Spoken Word
I also conducted a talk at Cley Marshes for the NWT as part of their lunchtime talks programme. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and my 45-minute talk ended up lasting well over an hour. This talk was fairly well-received, by around 30 people and our local newspaper – the Eastern Daily Press - ran a lovely interview/feature a few days before the talk. After the talk, I felt that the talk I had planned and finessed was ready to be ‘rolled out’ wider and I hope to book more talks in 2018.
The Written Word
Throughout 2017 I also had several magazine articles published in 2017 which was an excellent way to spread the message about the therapeutic benefits of birdwatching. ‘Birdwatch’ magazine carried two, one in May on restorative environments for birdwatching and one in October on my ‘five ways to well-birding’ idea. Also in October, some extracts of my writing were included in the beautiful publication ‘The Curlew’ and the Countryman also ran a small feature on Bird Therapy in their October issue too.
Reading this back, it really is a fantastic list of achievements and whilst there have been some tougher times, for example, the amount of rejections I’ve had for my book proposal – my friend was right, I have to celebrate what I have achieved! I’d also like to thank Team4nature and Birdwatch magazine for their continued support and providing me with a platform for my writing and ideas. Best wishes for 2018 and happy birding! Joe