Christine Gregory – author, photographer and artist

Standing%20hare%20lrAn obsession with wildlife and concern for the environment have influenced most of Christine Gregory’s life.

During her childhood in the Sussex Weald she first became obsessed by the natural world and spent a lot of time sneaking around the woods following deer.

Now as a writer, artist and photographer in the Derbyshire Dales she devotes her time to raising awareness about endangered species and places.

Her much-loved book on brown hares in the district is regarded as a definitive guide to the mammal; she was specially commissioned to write a book about the River Bradford in 2013 and now she is in the middle of extensive research about the plight of water voles.

When she is not outside capturing her subjects on camera – or in her studio writing and painting – Christine is visiting groups and organisations talking about her work.

“I am totally fascinated with wildlife and how we are affecting the environment. The whole subject is just really important to me and I can’t imagine doing anything else at the moment,” she said.

“I, like a lot of people, find it hard to resist the charms of the water vole with their twitchy noses and bright little eyes but sadly they have suffered a dramatic population decline in recent years.

“Derbyshire is one of their remaining strongholds so I wanted to find out what has happened to them and why and use my pictures and words to raise awareness of their plight to a wider audience.

“I sometimes feel as if I am on a Teach Yourself Science course. There is so much information to read but I have to go through it all and try to understand and simplify it if I am to compile a book people can understand. I see my job as all about popularising the subject.

“I like to get out to observe animals most days but even though I know where water voles are it is not always easy to see them. I spent days and days and days poking around looking for a bit of poo beside the river.”

Christine lives in an idyllic spot just north of Darley Dale. Just a stone’s throw from her doorstep is a stream, woods and the moors and all you can hear is the babbling of the water and birdsong.

Before she and her partner moved there they had spent 20 years bringing up their daughter in a cottage overlooking Bradford Dale at Youlgrave.

When the Bradford River Action Group decided to produce a book about the river and its history to raise funds for conservation work Christine was clearly the first choice as author.

“I have spent many hours and days exploring the dale and I know it intimately. It is a special place and I aimed to draw a picture of the evolution of the river with the book.

“It was while I was pulling it all together that I realised the water vole would be a great subject for my next work.”

Although Christine now concentrates on painting, writing and taking pictures, she used to work as a teacher in adult and further education centres and as radio journalist for BBC Radio Sheffield. Before taking early retirement she ended her 30-year career teaching journalism at Norton College in Sheffield.

“The 1980s was an interesting time to be working in that field and we were given amazing freedom to produce material for the radio. I was involved in programmes about striking miners, the steel workers, women’s groups and young people.

“But I have to say that I found working in the city very hard as I missed the natural environment and felt I was being deprived. I couldn’t be happier doing any work other than that I am doing now.”

If you would like to invite Christine to present her talk, then go to her website http://www.cg.barefoot-hosting.com. Her book on water voles will be published by Vertebrate this autumn.

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