Heather Reid – What inspired me to become a National Park Board Member
Twenty years ago Loch Lomond and The Trossachs was designated Scotland’s first National Park. Things have changed a lot since then and we need Board members with a diverse range of perspectives and skills to help guide the organisation, so that we can make sure that the qualities that make this place so special are restored and protected for everyone to enjoy now and for the future.
Ahead of our 2022 Local Board Member Elections, Board member Heather Reid offers some insight on the rewards of the position and how she fits the role into her busy life.
Why did you want to join the Board?
My background is in weather and climate, and for over 25 years I have worked to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change. Our National Park is at the forefront of some of these impacts, especially around nature and biodiversity, and I wanted to be more involved in the decision-making and policy development that can help the National Park mitigate and adapt to both the nature and climate crises.
I also work in adult education and wanted to see the National Park be more accessible to a range of different audiences – including those from a disadvantaged and urban background, who could then enjoy the physical and mental health benefits. I have enjoyed camping, fishing, hiking and biking holidays in the Park since I was a child, and want others to have the opportunity to discover the great outdoors like I did.
What aspects of our work do you find most interesting and why?
The first aim of the National Park is to conserve and enhance the natural and cultural heritage of the area. I find the balance between delivering this aim, while managing millions of visitors annually and supporting our rural communities, a fascinating and challenging role. The climate and nature crises also require us to act at a greater pace and tackle these challenges as a priority.
What parts of your role as a Board member do you enjoy the most or find the most rewarding?
I enjoy our Board meetings where we have time to discuss the big issues like Future Nature, Sustainable Travel and Mission Zero, our journey to Net Zero Emissions. I sit on our Audit and Risk Committee where we have oversight of the whole organisation from the finances to our governance structures and essential policies. It’s a great place to learn more about the organisation while providing assurance to the Board. I also sit on our Futures Group where we look at some of the big challenges. And I especially enjoy my more informal role, sponsoring our work around Net Zero and supporting our amazing Youth Committee.
How easily do you find Board duties fit into your daily life?
I live very near the National Park, so it’s easy for me to jump on a train to Balloch for meetings. We do get plenty of notice of our meeting dates and that helps with diary planning. We are now able to join meetings remotely thanks to technology and we hold some meetings completely online. My daughter is a teenager, so I haven’t needed to use childcare during my time as a Board member, but I am glad that we do have funding available for childcare provision if required. Members of the current board are pictured above right.
What advice would you give to someone who doesn’t think they would be a good fit as a Board member, or feel they aren’t ‘traditional Board material’?
When you look at the big challenges facing the National Park, it’s essential that our Board reflects a range of different thinking, ideas and skills. We need the whole of Scotland represented on our Board and that means everyone is ‘Board material’! We also provide a fantastic and thorough training programme during the first few months. So if you are thinking of standing as a candidate – just go for it – a warm and grateful welcome awaits.
If you’re aged over 21 and passionate about the future of our National Park, you can help us to shape our next chapter by standing for election to become a National Park Board member.
Nominations packs are now available to download.
- Like all elections to quangos and other appointments which are usually given by the government to trusted friends and supporters, this appointment to the National Park board is no different. It carries remuneration of £600 a month plus expenses for what must be one of the easiest jobs of its kind. It’s all part of Secret Scotland since we are told that the meetings, which are supposed to be public, are carried sotto voce which makes the proceedings difficult to follow and that questions even about this election appear not to be welcomes by staff at the Park HQ in Balloch. Now that this has been disclosed, watch out for a long queue of friends of Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP government forming to express and interest in this “voluntary” post. Bill Heaney, Editor, The Dumbarton Democrat