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The campaigners drawing on Emily's legacy 

From 'hedgehog highways' to #NetsDownForNature, 20 Emily fans share their stories, tactics and motivation in this campaigning toolkit. Our thanks to Charlie Moores of Off The Leash, and Laura Turner & Tina M Lindsay of the brilliant Wildlife Garden Project, for compiling


Festival Programme

Chris Packham

On the rise and rise of women in conservation.

'When I was a kid, all biologists and most conservationists were white, bearded men, and I determined that I would never have a beard, because I didn’t want to fit in with that stereotype. Well things have changed, very much for the better...'

Hannah Bourne-Taylor

The environmental campaigner and author of 'Fledgling' on one transformative act of compassion.

'I got used to having this feathered friend living on my body. He would sleep in my hand, he would make nests out of my hair, and he would call to me. Many people since have asked me why I bothered...'

Maggie Wilcox

The local hero who sparked a nationwide #NestsNotNets movement by defending a Sand Martin colony in Bacton, Norfolk.

'Perhaps you feel powerless? Maybe you feel what you say or do won’t make a difference? You’re wrong. One voice becomes many, too loud to be ignored. If you think wild lives matter, please use your voice. Remember Emily Williamson. The world is listening.'

Hugh Warwick

Tips from 'Hedgehog Hugh', the unlikely campaigner who has made hedgehog highways part of UK housing legislation.

'Once you’ve started doing things for hedgehogs, you’ve also inadvertently started doing things for all sorts of other creatures as well. So I’m a big fan in getting out there and doing something that might seem really small, but might have really big repercussions.'

Lindsey Chapman

The wildlife TV presenter on why Emily Williamson is her campaigning role model.

'Emily Williamson is an inspiration for me because she went against the grain. She stood up for what she believed, against the popular fashion of the time, and she did something about it. If one voice can create what is now the RSPB, then we all have a role to play. And that is really energising...'

Lizzie Daly

The Welsh adventurer, explorer and wildlife biologist on the challenges and rewards of a career in science and STEM 

'If you’re watching, if you’re a young woman who wants to get into science, you absolutely can.'

Gayatri Kaul

The mother of teen eco campaigner Kabir Kaul on how she had her eyes opened to urban nature.

'And very slowly and very surely I was fascinated, I was obsessed, and then addicted, to doing little things for nature within my own garden...'

Brid Ruddy

On how a wildflower alley has united communities and sparked a green revolution in the streets of Belfast.

'A lesson I’ve learned is: work at the very local level. Often doors will open to wider regeneration, and it can be very effective. We still have opposition, but we’re facing that in a very positive way, by showing that you can do things with happiness, good intent, and lots of colour and music.' 

Mya Bambrick

How a degree in Conservation is unleashing a range of skills and passions for this young vlogger.

'Despite not coming from a particularly privileged background, I've always enjoyed using the natural world as a source of joy and relaxation. Now it's giving me a chance to develop many skills, too, including my confidence...'

Olivia Masi

Why one woman returns to Malta year after year, volunteering for CABS (Committee Against Bird Slaughter).

'Whether we were secretly filming footage of crimes that we could pass to the police, or body-guarding birds so that they left the island alive, by the end of that first week I was hooked...'

ATM Street Art

The avian street artist on how environmental art connects communities and transforms cultural values.

'I paint endangered species on urban walls as a call to arms, as a way to reach a maximum number of people, because so much more needs to be done to restore our native species and their habitats. Every little action can have a cumulative effect.'

Megan McCubbin

The zoologist, conservationist and TV presenter on her environmental role models and heroes.

• Harriet Hemenway, founder of America's Audubon Society.

• RSPB founder, Emily Williamson of Didsbury.

• Professor Wangari Maathai, Kenyan founder of the tree planting Green Belt Movement.

• Jill Robinson, founder of Animals Asia, saviour of caged bears. 

Holly Barber

On the science behind 'Forest Bathing', and why we all need to do it, daily.

'I invite you to go and find a spot, somewhere in nature – garden, park, woodland, beach – just sit and be for ten minutes, and just notice the difference that makes for you.'



Photograph by Adrian Peacock

Laline Paull

The award-winning environmental novelist speaks about activism and the need to wake up, look at issues straight on, get involved and - while we're at it - stick two fingers up at anybody who criticises us for doing so! Laline is author of 'The Bees', 'The Ice' and 'Pod'.

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Mary Colwell

'Find the humanity in the midst of the conflict.' Author and campaigner Mary Colwell talks about what she learned when she set out to experience curlew decline, and what inspiration she has taken from Emily Williamson about changing hearts, minds and the status quo.


Street Artist ATM

Speaking on what he hopes his bird murals will inspire, and the action we can all take on a local level for wildlife. Like Emily Williamson, he wants to reinforce our cultural connection with the natural world. 

View his beautiful and evocative paintings at


Hazel Reeves

Artist and sculptural choreographer Hazel Reeves works at Knepp Wildland Estate in West Sussex where she is surrounded by a surging population of Nightingales. Hear how she creates remarkable soundscapes filled with the sounds of nature, like the 'Sculptural Murmurings Project'.

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Nicola Chester

'Home is a place in nature and imagination, which must be protected through words and actions.' Reading from her award-winning memoir 'On Gallows Down: Place, Protest and Belonging', Nicola reminds us that we can all find our own way to protest.


Charlie Moores

Off the Leash Podcasts' Charlie Moores talks about his own experience as a birder, and how he never knew how much he had to thank Emily Williamson for. He reflects on how much more work there is to do, and that it's just as important as ever that we use our voices for nature. 


Climate Emergency Manchester

Chloe Jeffries describes how Emily's legacy continues in the work CEM does locally to tackle the climate crisis. Different skills can be valuable in campaigning and activism: the Active Citizenship Toolkit helps citizens engage with these issues. No matter what your background, Chloe explains how we can all contribute in an impactful way.

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Tessa Boase

The author and social historian tells how she hunted for the elusive Emily Williamson among the RSPB archives, and muses on the character of the different Victorian women involved in its birth: highly collaborative, no big egos. Is this why their contribution was sidelined?


Danielle Shaw

The Communications Officer at Birdlife International, and author of the blog Nature's Good News, talks about the power of environmental storytelling. Success stories, like Emily Williamson's, can motivate others to take action, rather than falling into a feeling of helplessness that we all know too well.

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Holly Barber

Nature therapy guide & eco coach Holly Barber tells us how she found her drive to start the Global Wildlife Rescue Project, how concepts of our relationship with nature vary around the world, and how getting outside can help us deal with modern living due to our biology.

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