My thirst for adventure began with my parents who lit the flame of the idea of there being a bigger world out there beyond our little three bedroomed house in Waltham Abbey.
It led to me becoming a Queen’s Guide at the age of 14 - the youngest in my County to do so and I loved nothing better than being out under canvas or better still being under the stars, learning to cook over a camp fire and building a shelter for a lavatory.
My father introduced me to the author Wilbur Smith when I was a teenager and I was captivated by his searing portrayal of Africa - it’s beauty and the savagery of his historical characters - all combining to portray being in the bush so well I could smell the dust and feel the heat of the sun.
I spent my latter teens travelling - first throughout Europe, then Israel where I lived on a kibbutz and then Zimbabwe as a venturer volunteering with a charity called Operation Raleigh - now Raleigh International. It was formative in that it was my first time stepping foot in Africa and it was every bit as magical and challenging as I imagined it would be. My best friends remain those I made on that expedition over 25 years ago.
I went on to visit many more African countries since then, inspiring my love of both the continent itself, its people as well as its wildlife and I now dedicate much of my time to conservation charities like Tusk which raises awareness around poaching, habitat loss and human-wildlife conflict which are having such a devastating impact on Africa’s wildlife.
I have been able to return to Africa on a number of occasions with my work - reporting from Lesotho with BBC Breakfast on the HIV epidemic there and then for BBC 1 with the extraordinary programme Big Cat Live where I had the privilege of working with the incredible natural historians Simon King, Jonathan Scott and Jackson Looseyia. The time I spent with them in Kenya was among the most magical of my professional life and I am still in touch with all of them and delighted that Jonathan and Angie Scott will soon return to our screens along with Jackson for Big Cat Legacy on Animal Planet as they document the present-day prides and families of the big cats of the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya — the fights, the cuddling, and the adorable cubs growing up into adulthood.