The Rye Harbour Discovery Centre has a new heritage trainee. For Tim Castle, former police officer and tactical firearms expert, the new role at the discovery centre couldn’t be more removed from his old life. Here, Emma Chaplin speaks to the new recruit:
Tell us a bit about yourself
I’m married with an 11 year old son Ethan. I currently live in Herstmonceux, about 40 minutes from Rye Harbour Nature Reserve. I grew up in Eastbourne, where our house backed onto marshland so I’d be able to see kestrels, sparrowhawks and buzzards. I was a police officer for nine years in Hastings and Rother, including covering Rye Harbour. Then I transitioned into counter-terrorism and tactical firearms at Gatwick and Lewes. I’ve also worked in the mental health field and managed a supported employment team.
How have you come to be a heritage trainee?
I went back to college to study countryside management, but then Covid-19 hit and I became a stay-at-home dad for a while. I also volunteered at a care farm, working with children in care with special educational needs, so I could maintain some wildlife and conservation experience. Then I saw a job here and applied. I wanted to get back into paid employment in this area and this is a great opportunity. It’s Rye Harbour which I know really well. I’m also a member of Sussex Wildlife Trust, so it was something I had to go for.
What does the role involve?
It’s for twelve months, and it’s funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund with the purpose of supporting the delivery of the Discover Rye Harbour project, which involves a variety of activities including educational work with local schools, habitat management, working with community groups and recording species.
My role sits within the communities and wildlife team but the work covers supporting both the land management team plus communities and wildlife. So some of my time is hands-on working with Barry Yates and the reserve team undertaking habitat management, and some is supporting Lucy, Natasha and Jill on the educational side, working with adults and children across all demographics.
How are you finding it so far?
Really good. It’s fun and the team is great. I’m just at the end of my third week. It’s been a steep learning curve. There are a lot of people to get to know and a lot of wildlife as well.
There’s so much going on here in terms of wildlife, it’s almost overwhelming. Rye is so open. You can see everything for a lot longer than most places, where you might see a buzzard but then it’s gone.
I knew the reserve before, but I’m getting to know it in a different capacity now. I’m looking at things differently the more I learn.
What’s your favourite spot on the reserve?
Castle Water, where the cormorants are resting at the moment. I really like them.
Top tips for coping with an indoor/outdoor job with so much changeable weather?
Lots of layers! I’m used to it from my other work.
What constitutes a good Christmas for you?
I’ll be with my wife, son and in-laws, sitting down in front of the Queen’s speech and falling asleep. It’s what I do every year.
Image Credits: Barry Yates .