Northumberland's Ranger Jane has pivoted her work since the pandemic to set up her own business in coastal education. She's partnered with local heritage organisations, schools and artists to bring coastal education to local and tourists and is currently nominated for a prestigious Tourism Superstar Visit England award. You can vote for Jane here. Her company Ranger Jane Beach School strives to ignite a life long marine preservation interest in children. I've been along to one of her sessions with my children and there aren't enough stars to share how brilliant it all was.
I caught up with Jane earlier this month to find out a little more about her journey and I'm sure you'll agree it makes fascinating reading!
Can you tell us about you and why you started your business?
After ten years working in a Ranger role for the National Trust I was on furlough leave for nine months in 2020. It ended up with one of the two NT Northumberland Coast roles being made redundant so I took this opportunity to go freelance.
My favourite part of my Ranger job with the NT was working in the community with schools, community groups and hosting public Rock Pooling events at SEAHOUSES, Low Newton & Lindisfarne castle and garden. After qualifying as a Beach School practitioner in 2021 and the lockdown restrictions ended I opened “Ranger Jane Beach School” in July 2021. It wasn't all plain sailing from there...
Just four weeks later in early August I lost the sight in my left eye with a detached retina. I had to cancel and refund over 50 bookings for the Summer. After Vitrectomy eye surgery, laser treatment and a cataract operation in both of my eyes I was able to work again in April 2022 finally being able to see and drive my car again .
Can you tell us about the way you’ve been working with children, families , schools and local tourists? In 2022 I hosted over one hundred family groups - for a pre- booked 90 minute guided “Seashore Safari” at SEAHOUSES. I hosted activities in 2022 from Easter to Halloween - it’s too cold for young children from November onwards and all of the sea creatures hibernate whilst it’s cold for them to find food. In 2022 I was invited to be an activity provider at South Shields with a Holiday Activity Fund Food bank (Key to Life) funded by South Shields council. I delivered six days in the Summer holidays and three days in the Christmas holidays (indoors).
I was also invited to work in partnership with the amazing sand artist Claire @Soul2Sand in October 2022. I worked in the local community printing 104 poppy flags with 104 children to remember 104 years since the Armistice on 11-11- 1918. This was to compliment Claire’s amazing poppy field sand drawing with Embleton school, seahouses youth club, and Embleton guides.
It’s was a fabulous activity marking the end of a successful year for me. What are your plans for this year? This year in 2023 I’ve added two hours special “Seashore Safari” birthday parties on the beach - guiding the children and parents together with all equipment provided by me. We all wear Wellington boots in the shallow rockpools and explore carefully and kindly - only handling creatures to take a photograph. We take only photos and leave only footprints. I’ve been invited to host more Holiday Activity Fund activity days at Easter, Summer holidays and Christmas holidays at South Tyneside in 2023 - with Key to Life Foodbank which has up to 40 children with a parent/adult each day. I’ve also been invited to work at HOWICK Hall and gardens from April - November delivering nature activities with families which is really exciting to be inland. Where can we find and follow you online? I’m on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter as “Ranger Jane Beach school” www.rangerjane.Co.Uk PS - I’ve also been nominated for the National “Tourism Superstar 2023” award - representing Northumberland - please vote for JANE - vote for NORTHUMBERLAND. My customers nominated me and Visit Northumberland supported my nomination by taking my nomination to the Visit England top ten finalists - closing on 20th March 2023.
The videographer came from London in early January to film my Top Secret nomination. Matt had interviewed David Attenborough previously which was incredible to hear and an honour to be involved with.