FSC | Field Studies Council

Field Studies Council: Bringing Environmental Understanding to All

1978 Steve Ormerod, Chair of RSPB Council and Professor of Ecology Cardiff School of Biosciences - FSC Juniper Hall

My first ever job - at £7.25 per week plus lodging - was at Juniper Hall as an undergraduate on a placement year in 1978-79.

In addition to driving the Centre's dishwashing machines, I was given the task of producing an invertebrate identification key for all the freshwater habitats used in the Centre's teaching. What I learned about them launched my career as the professional freshwater ecologist that I still am today.

My experiences of Box Hill, the North Downs and the associated heathlands, coupled with the hugely knowledgeable and inspirational tutors who delivered the Centre's courses, made the whole period absolutely pivotal to my growing enthusiasm for nature. The memory of hearing my first ever nightingale in full song under a huge, starry sky on Headley Heath still gives me goosebumps.

Centre life was always entertaining. From the late John Sankey's pet badger to the ferociously competitive table-tennis tournaments played out among the Centre staff led by John Bebbington (then warden). John, if you're reading this, I'm ready for a re-match...