Meet the team: 10 questions with Camilla ‘CJ’ Johns
We spoke to head of development Camilla ‘CJ’ Johns about her role at the charity and why she has a soft spot for Damoy Hut.
1. Tell us about yourself
My background is in the charity sector and I have always loved raising money for good causes. This spans from our wonderful national parks to museums and community concert halls; places which help to inspire, create and connect.
Outside of the Trust you’ll find me listening to (and occasionally playing!) music, hiking up a hill somewhere or preparing for an autumnal camp. I wake up thinking about Antarctica most of the time.
CJ with the UKAHT team in the Peak District (Credit: Heather Barrable)
2. What does a normal day at UKAHT look like for you?
As head of development at the charity, my role here is quite varied. Fundraising is about helping to make things happen, and this can vary from enabling urgent building repairs to new initiatives sharing Antarctica’s story in schools.
We (myself and my colleague Heather) liaise with friends and donors, the companies that kindly sponsor and donate goods, and the charitable trusts making grants to support our conservation and engagement projects. We are also humbled to speak with families and individuals who have made a gift to Antarctica in their Will or in memory of a loved one.
I also look for new support and funding. The charity always needs more help and donations of all sizes enable us to deliver projects, test new ideas and deliver active conservation. You might hear from us about fundraising appeals or events, or at other times when we are simply relaying a very big ‘thank you!’.
My hope is that we can open doors for more people to get involved in Antarctic heritage and preservation. If you are interested in making a gift or organising your own fundraiser, please do drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. What made you want to work for UKAHT?
I have always been interested in exploration and Antarctica. The continent is awe-inspiring but the history and human stories are very powerful. Many years ago I was poking around a secondhand bookshop and found (on the bottom shelf!) a collection of diary entries written by Polar explorers across the ages. After that, I never looked back. UKAHT works to preserve these histories and share them with people around the world. The charity’s conservation work in Antarctica is very unique but also the approach to helping more children and adults to discover, understand and protect this special place.
4. What's your favourite UKAHT site and why?
Each of the sites we care for has its own personality. Each one is important and significant in their own way. I was fortunate to visit Damoy Hut base in the middle of our conservation season last year and to see the team carefully restoring the paintwork by hand.
Damoy Hut was recently restored (Credit: UKAHT)
Approaching from the sea, you see just how tiny and remote this historic site is. Opening the door, there is a small room with kitchen equipment and another with bunks. Men spent time here playing games and waiting for transit to a science base further down the Antarctic Peninsula. It is life and survival in its simplest form. It is wonderful.
5. What's your favourite species of penguin and why?
How can you ever choose? All of them!
6. If you were working at Port Lockroy for the season, what luxury item would you take?
A diary. One of the gifts Antarctica offers is a disconnection from the modern world and technology. It is nature's place where humans drop in occasionally. Not having access to a phone or email offers space to think and write, and capturing the ideas, sounds and sights of Antarctica in a diary is something to keep forever and share with others. It continues the great legacy of Antarctic explorers and scientists before us.
CJ at Port Lockroy in 2023 (Credit: Camilla Johns)
7. Tell us about a travel experience that changed you
Having the opportunity to spend some time in Nepal. The people and scenery had a lasting impact on me. Like Antarctica, the power of the Himalayan mountain range and stories of human survival are very inspiring.
8. Tell us about a dream trip you still want to take
I’d quite like to visit the edge of the universe just to see what’s there! Apart from that, I’m very happy walking the cliffs of Cornwall and the hills of Wales and the Lake District.
CJ is a keen hiker (Credit: Camilla Johns)
9. If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
A greater connection to nature. The natural world is beautiful and intricate, and it has been around far longer than us. My hope is that one day we can all respect and benefit from it a little more.
10. Could you tell us about something you have learned while working at UKAHT?
That we have a worldwide audience that likes to tune into our webinar and podcast series. Part of our mission is to help people discover and understand Antarctica, and we love hearing from our audience and supporters, from India to Brazil to Colorado!
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Every membership and donation we receive helps our expert teams deliver vital conservation work across the heritage sites that we preserve. Without your support, sites of great importance in Antarctica's history could quickly deteriorate, taking with them historic artefacts, tales of scientific advancement and human endeavour that inform how we, as a global community, view and value Antarctica today. With your help, we can continue to conserve this special continent to ensure its protection for years to come.Donate now
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