When I was young, one of my girlhood heroes was Michaela Strachan. She’d presented various childrens television shows in the ’80s but by the time I was old enough to be watching and understanding things, she had made her name as one of the most well-known wildlife presenters on British screens. The Really Wild Show (BBC) with Chris Packham et al was a highlight of my weekly viewing, combining animal facts with madcap games and fun. (Take BBC’s Springwatch, get it hyper on sugary breakfast cereal, and you get the idea).
Fun, passionate and brimming with energy and smiles, Michaela enthused me with a love and curiousity of the natural world, to the point that for many years I wanted to be a zoologist. By the time I was 10, I had joined the WDCS (whale and dolphin conservation society), in part because I had seen a campaign for it that she endorsed, and as I approached my pre-teens I became hooked on adopting endangered animals as part of conservation charities. I raised the money for it through cake sales or asked for donations for my birthday. Whales, dolphins, manatees, donkeys- you name it, I probably adopted one. It really was the first time that I became aware of charitable organisations and how anyone can get involved and help do their bit.
Strachan is now an ambassador and supporter of many charities, including non-wildlife organisations such as Breakthrough Breast Cancer, having beaten the illness in its early stages.
I never did become a zoologist, but I never lost that love for wildlife and the urge to learn about, protect and look after it.
Michaela continues to present wildlife shows and somehow, in the 30 years I’ve been alive and the 20 years I’ve known about her, she doesn’t seem to have changed. She has travelled the world on her shows and with her charity work, and I thought maybe I would like to travel abroad so that I could work with animals too. There’s still time.