I have always been passionate about nature and wildlife and grew up watching David Attenborough documentaries.
At 16, when I left school, I decided to take a course in art, design and technology.
A passion for photography was ignited and I spent a lot of time in local woodland photographing wildlife.
Once I graduated, in 2005, I decided to go travelling. I had always wanted to visit Africa, and was lucky enough to have a small inheritance to help make this a reality.
During my research, I stumbled across a course to become a professional safari guide in South Africa. The idea of living and working there seemed like a dream.
There were 18 modules on different aspects of African ecology and conservation and I found it would take me three years to qualify.
Nevertheless, I decided to make it happen, taking a job in a call centre for nine months to top up my funds before embarking on my African adventure in late 2008.
Then, in 2014, ebola hit Africa
I lived on a shoestring, staying with other guides in safari tents and hostels, and really saw the other side of the industry. The guests paid for five-star treatment; the guides themselves had much more meagre accommodation.
I loved it – it was eye-opening, and I learned a lot about great customer service and making people happy.
After seven years, I even decided to go freelance and create my own packages.
Sadly, in 2014, ebola hit Africa. Although our area was not affected, the tourism industry slumped.
I had also begun to feel a long way from family – I am an only child and seeing my parents just once a year was hard.
In 2016, after eight wonderful years in South Africa, I decided it was time to move back to Stamford, Lincolnshire, where I grew up.
My new business plans were devastated by Covid
Once back, I was not quite sure which direction to take.
Serendipitously, I met a woman at my cousin’s yoga class and got talking.
She worked for New College Stamford (my old college) and told me there was a lecturer role opening – in ecology and conservation.
I applied and spent three happy years sharing my knowledge of nature and conservation with students.
But I have never been one to sit still and gradually got itchy feet again.
What I really wanted to do was take groups of college students out to Africa to see animals in the wild, to learn about the diverse fauna and flora first-hand and earn themselves industry-recognised qualifications in the process.
I set up my own company, Students of Nature Ltd, in August 2017 while still working at the college.
Unfortunately, just as I was building my customer base, Covid hit, travel was cancelled, and I had to refund my bookings. I was devastated and unsure what to do next.
I combined my passion for nature and recycling in Limousin
My parents had moved to Limousin in 2017 to retire and run a small gîte. Not sure what was going to happen in the pandemic, I moved over to be with them – arriving a day before the borders were closed in March 2020.
Like most people, lockdown gave me time to reflect.
I discovered Limousin has an abundance of lakes and forests: nature was on my doorstep!
I began to wonder whether I could combine my passion for recycling and ecology with my love of nature – and came up with a unique idea: creating recycled artworks.
One of the items I seemed to regularly find in décheteries was discarded cutlery. My dad taught me how to weld and I began to experiment.
Now I create everything from delicate painted birds to whimsical wind chimes, all from discarded cutlery. I love giving other people’s ‘rubbish’ a new lease of life.
Wildlife inspired mosaics from broken ceramics
In August 2020, I set up my own company, La Petite Maison Creations, and specialise in wildlife-inspired gifts.
I am now a well-known face on local markets and I have many loyal customers, some of whom have become friends.
In January 2022, I took a mosaic course and started recycling broken and chipped ceramics and other found objects.
Wildlife is my inspiration, and I often include sculptural features, such as muscle and feather details, alongside my signature glass mirror roses, placed where the animal’s heart would be, to represent the fragility of nature.
Recently, I have started taking commissions for recycled ceramic pet portraits and next year I hope to run mosaic workshops too.
My days are always full and busy, which suits me to the ground.