Who Are We?

Alastair Atkinson – Chair
GEF member for 12 years

What motivated you to join GEF?
John Banister was my motivation to join; he had such passion for the natural environment and protecting Guildford and was the Chair of GEF for many years. At the time I was advising different cities around the world what to do about zero carbon and how use resources efficiency so I decided I would try to do something to help where I live.  I’ve never looked backThe best thing you’ve done/learnt since joining GEF
For me it’s about the collective passion and fact we are making a difference rather than one thing, and I love the fact that the GEF members have such a huge range of passions and priorities around the environment; it generates a really great debate.

If you need one special memory – strangely it’s around the apple pressing events GEF runs; I still remember the children’s faces when they tried the apple juice straight from the press, the realisation that the apples they had just chopped could taste so different from the juice at home.  

What changes have you adopted to improve the environment?
We have always recycled but lately have been focusing on how we reduce the energy we use, choosing carefully the food we eat and the miles we drive. I’m currently working on getting some solar panels to further reduce the family carbon footprint.

If you were granted an environmental wish for Guildford what would it be?
I would like a mechanism for society to de-couple itself from the car; it’s so engrained and embedded into every aspect of society; physical, cultural and emotionally it means it’s much harder for everyone to let go. 

Adrian Thompson
Vice-Chair, Treasurer, Membership

What motivated you to join GEF?
General concern about the Environment and the challenges of Climate Change. For 40 years, we have felt, as a family, that nature was being taken for granted and humans were not respecting the need for the planet to be sustainably looked after. On retirement, it seemed to be time to do something to help. Increasingly, it is important that we do things locally in the hope and expectation that national government will follow.

The best thing you’ve done/learnt since joining GEF
Being part of GEF means learning something new every day. The world is too complex now, so I delight in walking in the wonderful countryside on our doorstep. We particularly like the chalk downs, so being part of the Stepping Stones Small Blue butterfly project from the start (originally managed by Butterfly Conservation but now run by a small team of local volunteers) continues to be a highlight – see my article on pages 15/16 of the December 2020 newsletter

What changes have you adopted to improve the environment?
Lockdown enabled us to reduce car use by 75%, live more sustainably, and start projects to plant trees and hedges in our village with the support of our parish Council.

If you were granted an environmental wish for Guildford what would it be?
To reduce the litter everywhere, but this is not a small wish as it needs education from an early age, especially by parents. 

Richard Seymour
GEF member for 10+ years

What motivated you to join GEF?
Being Head of Geography at the RGS and Chairman of the local branch of the Geographical Association, I wanted to be more engaged in a range of environmental issues at a variety of scales.  In particular I wanted to enable GEF members to share the lecture programme that we arranged for local schools and organisations. Previous newsletters will show how we did this as we tended to cover common ground. John Bannister was instrumental in helping with this process.

The best thing you’ve done/learnt since joining GEF?
I have written several articles for the newsletter and encouraged pupils from the RGS to contribute as well. GEF have helped to pay for tools for ‘The Friends of Chittys Common’ which is my local conservation group where we work with the Surrey Wildlife Trust maintaining the common. Attending the lecture programme organised by GEF has been valuable and reading the newsletter.

What changes have you adopted to improve the environment?
During lockdown my wife and I have been walking extensively in our local area and we have also been collecting plastic bottles and cans for recycling. This has been 4-5 carrier bags full each week. I intend to increase my array of solar panels and get SSE to install a smart meter. I have 5 compost heaps for recycling kitchen and garden waste. I have built 10 bird nesting boxes for family and friends to put up in their gardens

Keith Chesterton

Keith Chesterton
GEF Member for 21 years

What motivated you to join GEF?
I represented Guildford Borough Council in GEF as a councillor. Climate change was my motivation.  I became the Guildford Council Executive Member with responsibility for the Environment. I introduced a number of initiatives including solar panels on some houses, CHP at the Spectrum, a demonstration Eco-House, extended recycling, and was able to enable more cycling schemes.

What changes have you adopted to improve the environment?
I use the car less and cycle around Guildford. I’ve always done recycling. I’ve had extra insulation put in the house.

If you were granted an environmental wish for Guildford what would it be?
Better bus services in the evening so that non-use of a car would become easier.