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Meet Chris Webster - Geographer and coastal fieldwork leader, connoisseur of millionaire shortbread!

What drives you to spend time outside?

Fresh air often creates a refreshed mind. In our modern world most of us are busy, we are often more connected to our phones then our physical landscape. Getting outside whether that’s just digging in the garden, kicking a ball in the park or taking time for a longer rural ramble is free, healthy and good for us. As a parent I want my children to understand the social and health benefits of outdoor activity and therefore I need to lead by example!

Where are your favourite places to go?

East Anglia is an often-overlooked part of the UK, we don’t have many hills but there are incredible beaches, the North Norfolk coast especially is stunning. Walberswick in Suffolk has some fantastic historic walks along the shore, through forests and wildlife-rich marshes, it is also one of the best spots anywhere for crabbing!

What is your favourite thing to do outdoors?

As a fieldwork teacher I support the people I work with to ask questions about the landscape around them, to discover why the area they are in looks as it does. Through fieldwork investigations they try to gather evidence and answers to the questions they have. Helping people understand why the world looks as it does is hugely rewarding!

Charlotte Ditchburn

Who inspires you and how?

About 20 years ago I read ‘The Worst Journey in the World’ by Apsley Cherry-Garrard. It is a book which has ever since shaped my perspective and inspired me to persevere with challenging situations. In his closing words Cherry-Garrard states ‘If you have the desire for knowledge and the power to give it physical expression, go out and explore’.

What are your focuses this year to help people get outside more often?

In East Suffolk there is currently a focus on increasing physical activity in adults with only 31.5% of residents completing more than 2 hours of exercise a week. There is also a priority to reduce social isolation and loneliness. I’m hoping this year to encourage more people to join community coastal walks which are accessible for all and encourage greater social interaction as well as the additional health benefits.

What are your 3 biggest life achievements?

Unsupported cycle across Iceland – completed in 2017 from the very far North-East of the country to Keflavik in the South-West, crossing the wild and remote Kjölur route which runs through the heart of the volcanic desert plateau in the central highlands. I raised enough money to buy defibrillators for 3 local schools. Learning enough French to teach in Dakar, Senegal – I completed a ‘Connecting Classrooms’ programme with the British Council in 2015 which gave me the opportunity to visit and teach in schools in Senegal, in French! Including delivering full-school assemblies - It was an amazing ‘out of my comfort zone’ experience, especially as I was really not very good at French at school and therefore I self-taught myself during my commutes in the months before my trip! Establishing the Geography Fieldwork Academy – as a trained teacher with next-to-no business experience I’m delighted that our fieldwork venture has now become established with over 5,000 students benefiting from affordable field courses across the East coast counties of Suffolk, Norfolk and Lincolnshire whilst also growing a national reputation for high-quality fieldwork.

3 words you live by…

The 3 P’s! Proactivity, Positivity and Perspective. The 3 P’s! Proactivity, Positivity and Perspective.

Be proactive in making the most of your opportunities, be positive in your mindset – focus on the good don’t be beaten by the bad and finally, most importantly, try to reflective and put things in perspective, we can be overwhelmed at times but we are all so lucky to be here even if it may not always feel that way. It’s our individual responsibility to make the most of this life and help others to do the same.

Do you have any guilty pleasures?

Millionaire shortbread – It seems simple but it’s essential that all 3 layers should contribute to the overall experience. Its amazing how far different bakeries, delis and cafes vary in their offerings. I keep a record of all those that I’ve tried and score everyone I sample out of 30, with 10 points awarded to each layer, the shortbread base, the caramel filling and the chocolate top. Currently, the highest performing slice I’ve had the pleasure of scoffing was in a great café in Woodbridge, Suffolk called Honey & Harvey. Absolutely superb!!

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