#CycleForNature – the ultimate active travel challenge

Today our CEO, Francesca Osowska, set off on a grueling bike ride across Scotland. Over the next seven months Francesca will cycle more than 1300 miles in seven five-day-long legs, visiting at least 35 of our offices and trying to meet as many of our 723 staff as possible. Setting off from Galashiels today, #CycleForNature will take Francesca as far south as Dumfries, out to Stornoway in the Hebrides and up to our Lerwick office in Shetland, finishing off at our Inverness HQ on 12 October. So, why has Francesca set herself such an arduous challenge?

Francesca with Galashiels office staff and Niall Corbet, Operations Manager, who is joining the first leg to Edinburgh.

Francesca with Galashiels office staff and Niall Corbet, Operations Manager, who is joining the first day’s ride to Edinburgh.

Even before I started working for SNH, I was fascinated by the geographical spread of our offices.  Our wide network of offices helps to give SNH a unique presence and understanding of nature across Scotland. As soon as knew I had been appointed as Chief Executive, my mind turned to visiting all of our offices to meet staff and understand the important work of all our teams.  As a keen cyclist, it was not long before the connection between the two was made!  I then started looking at the map of offices and thinking about various route possibilities.  It took a while for me to talk about the plan out loud and I assumed everyone would think it was a mad idea.  People did think it was a mad idea, but were also really positive, supportive and enthusiastic.

Francesca and Niall on their way to Innerleithen

Francesca and Niall on their way to Innerleithen

Since I first let loose the idea on 5 December, there have been lots of creative ideas on how SNH can make the most of this opportunity and #CycleForNature was born.  Whilst this is primarily a way of me getting to visit all of SNH’s offices and meet staff within the first year (just!) of my appointment, it is also an opportunity to highlight the excellent work that SNH carries out. I feel that the diversity of work we do across the country reflects the diversity of nature and communities across Scotland.

A great first lunch at Innerleithen with (L to R) Jane Rosegrant, Borders Forest Trust, Graeme Johnstone, Scottish Borders Council, Pip Tabor, Southern Uplands Partnership and Luke Comins of the Tweed Forum.

A great first lunch at Innerleithen with (L to R) Jane Rosegrant of Borders Forest Trust, Graeme Johnstone from Scottish Borders Council, Pip Tabor of the Southern Uplands Partnership and Luke Comins of the Tweed Forum.

SNH’s aim is to connect people and nature and I hope to be an exemplar of that during the cycle.  In addition, I’ll be stopping along the way to visit key projects and meet partners, and using the National Walking & Cycling Network (NWCN) wherever possible.  #CycleForNature also fits well with my desire to ensure that we promote physical activity in the workplace and it is fitting that the first week of #CycleForNature takes place in the month of the Scottish Workplace Journey Challenge.

I will be aiming to raise money along the way for the Scottish Association for Mental Health. I have set up a Just Giving page and would be delighted if you were able to contribute.

Last minute email check at Galashiels before jumping on the saddling up.

Last minute email check at Galashiels before jumping on the saddling up.

Day one is now upon us.  I am relishing the challenge and opportunity of #CycleForNature and looking forward to what I will discover along the way.  I hope you will be part of the journey with me.

 

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