County Durham woman helped back to health by nature

Wildlife trusts in the North East have launched a drive to highlight the outdoors as a therapy

Simone Price
Simone Price

Sometimes an out-of-the-blue event can prompt a rethink about personal priorities and life direction.

That was the case for 30-year-old Simone Price, who had brain surgery a year ago.

Simone lives in West Auckland in County Durham with daughters Ruby and Robyn, and partner Steven.

She said: “I was getting headaches and slurring words.”

A scan showed that she had a rare condition which required surgery.

“Something like that reminds you that life is short,” said Simone, who worked as an office manager but has had a long interest in wildlife and the outdoors. “I thought if I didn’t do what I wanted to do then, I never would.”

She quit her job and is now a volunteer reserves officer with Durham Wildlife Trust.

She is learning new conservations skills and tackling tasks on the trust’s nature reserves.

She said: “I had brain surgery in March last year and suffered from headaches afterwards, especially when I was working on a computer.

“When I decided to pursue my passion for wildlife, I was worried that the headaches would get worse, but they disappear completely when I’m volunteering outside.

“I have learned loads of new things and met so many interesting people. It’s really therapeutic, and has made me feel happier and healthier again.”

Simone is based at the trust’s Low Barns reserve near Witton-le-Wear, which she would visit as a child.

My Wild Life - My office manager - Stephen and Jess, East Chevington, Northumberland
My Wild Life - My office manager - Stephen and Jess, East Chevington, Northumberland

“I loved it and it has always been my little place of escape,” she said.

“I love being outdoors. It lifts your spirits, you are meeting people with a common interest, and when you have a task in hand it takes your mind off everything else..

“Volunteering also gives you a sense of achievement.”

Arts graduate Simone is combining her conservation work with running her online business Simone Price Designs, offering personalised prints, cards and family trees.

She is one of the individuals chosen to promote a new campaign by the country’s wildlife trusts to show how nature is special and beneficial in varying ways to different people.

The My Wild Life campaign also invites people to contribute their stories and experiences.

Northumberland Wildlife Trust has put forward Longhorsley resident Stephen Comber, its Flexigraze manager who oversees conservation grazing.

Along with his sheepdog Jess, Stephen was photographed during a break from managing the Flexigraze sheep on the trust’s East Chevington reserve in Northumberland.

Mike Pratt, Northumberland Wildlife Trust’s chief executive said: “This project is about underlining how nature is important to all of our lives and we want to celebrate examples from local people, where nature figures in their daily existence.

“We all know nature is important to survival, but this is about celebrating how a little wildness makes life even more meaningful, fun, enjoyable, exciting or relaxing. It really is our alternative health service and it is free.”

Research suggests that people living near and using green spaces have a 50% chance of being more healthy – both physically and mentally and are 40% less likely to become overweight.

Individual stories can be found at www.mywildlife.org.uk where people can add their own and discover wild places near to them.

Simon King, The Wildlife Trusts’ president, said: “We’ve always known that contact with nature can make a big difference to people’s lives. The evidence is now building to back this up. We hope these stories inspire others to think about their relationship with the natural world and to make nature part of their life.”

People can share their stories of the wildlife and wild places which matter to them and why, using #MyWildLife on twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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