Our Ambassadors supply advice and support to New Networks for Nature. Outstanding achievers in their respective fields, they produce work that fulfils many of our aims and ideas.
MARK COCKER is an author of creative non-fiction. He is also a naturalist and environmental tutor, who writes and broadcasts on nature and wildlife in a variety of national media. In 2018 he releases a new book Our Place (Cape) on the fate of British nature since the beginning of the twentieth century. He will also complete 30 years as a Guardian country diarist. His 10 other books include works of biography, history, literary criticism and memoir. They include Claxton: Field Notes from a Small Planet (2014) and Birds and People (2013). The latter was published to international acclaim and was a collaboration with the photographer David Tipling. Between them these two were shortlisted for six literary awards including the Thwaites/Wain- wright Prize. His book Crow Country was shorlisted for several awards, including the Samuel Johnson Prize, and won the New Angle Prize (2009). In 2016 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Literature from the University of East Anglia, where he has recently placed his archive. He has travelled in more than 50 countries on six continents and in 1999 was awarded a Winston Churchill Travel Fellowship to study birds in magico-medicinal practices in Benin and Cameroon. For the last 35 years his home has been in Norfolk, where much of his spare time is devoted to the restoration of a small wooded fen called Blackwater. He is married to the arts professional Mary Muir, from whom he gets many of his best ideas!
Michael McCarthy was the environment editor of The Independent newspaper from 1998 to 2013 and won a number of prestigious awards for his commitment to and coverage of the environment and conservation matters, including the RSPB medal, the Dilys Breeze medal of the BTO and the silver medal of the Zoological Society of London. He is now a full-time writer; his books Say Goodbye to the Cuckoo (2009) and The Moth Snowstorm: Nature and Joy (2015) were widely praised. The Moth Snowstorm was shortlisted for the Wainwright Prize and the Richard Jeffries prize.
Ruth Padel’s moving new collection of poems, Emerald, an elegy for her mother, is published in July 2018. Ruth is an award-winning poet, Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, Professor of Poetry at King’s College London, shortlisted many times for the T S Eliot Prize, most recently for Learning to Make an Oud in Nazareth (2014). Her prose includes Tigers in Red Weather, on tiger conservation, and a wildlife novel Where the Serpent Lives, featuring the threatened forests of India. She was Chair of Judges for the 2016 T S Eliot Prize, and Judge for the 2016 International Man Booker Prize. Her ten collections include Darwin A Life in Poems (2009, Knopf/Chatto & Windus) a verse biography of her great-great grandfather Charles Darwin and The Mara Crossing/On Migration on human and animal migration (Chatto/ Counterpoint Press).
‘A poet of great eloquence and delicate skill, an exquisite image-maker who can work wonders with the great tradition of line and stanza. Her voice has an astonishing resonance.” (Colm Toibin).
Katrina Porteous is a poet, historian and broadcaster, much of whose work involves a detailed and loving celebration of the people, landscapes and wildlife of the Northumbrian coast where she lives. She has written extensively about local inshore fishing traditions, and often works in collaboration with artists and musicians, including painter James Dodds (Longshore Drift) and piper Chris Ormston (The Wund an’ the Wetter). Her long poems for BBC radio with producer Julian May include Dunstanburgh, The Refuge Box, and – with electronic composer Peter Zinovieff – Horse and Edge. She has recently worked with Northumbria University NUSTEM on Imagining the Sun.
Her most recent poetry collection, Two Countries (Bloodaxe, 2014), was shortlisted for the Portico Prize 2015.
Photograph of Mark Cocker by Rachael Cocker; Michael McCarthy by Tim Birkhead; Ruth Padel by Gwen Burnyeat.