15 January 2014

Getting to know my new team: Comms and Sustainability

Hayley McLellan
The Communications and Sustainability team – Kim Stephens, Hayley McLellan, Lesley Barker, Helen Lockhart and Renée Leeuwner

The Communications and Sustainability team started out with one lonesome, yet determined, crusader six years ago.

Glancing back, we see that Helen Lockhart, who heads up this team of awesomeness, had a passionate vision in 2007 when she motivated for a whole new department to be formed. At the time there was a movement towards incorporating more sustainable practices in the home and in the workplace, and as head of an environmental institution our director, Dr Pat Garratt, was increasingly aware that the Aquarium should be playing a major role in this arena. He felt we needed to lead by example.

“One day Helen came to me, suggesting that she had come to the end of road at the Aquarium and needed to move on,” says Dr Pat. “I asked her what she had in mind and, when she said that she wanted to study at the Sustainability Institute, I was delighted. I suggested not only that she stay on at the Aquarium (and change her portfolio to sustainability and communications manager), but also that we would fund her studies. She could not believe her luck, and so started the ‘Green Movement’ at the Two Oceans Aquarium!”

In 2008 Renée Leeuwner made the move from marketing to support Helen on “the green side”, while Helen went off to further her studies; Renée remains Helen’s right-hand lady, as assistant communications and sustainability manager, to this day. Lesley Barker joined the team as our graphic designer in 2011 and brought her creative brilliance to this ever-evolving team. Kim Stephens, of Kim Stephens Consultancy, supplements our team from a sponsorship aspect, bringing on board other like-minded organisations to be exposed to the wonderful world of conservation, thus creating effective partnerships that work for all.

Now, for the first time in 18 years, the Two Oceans Aquarium has a campaign co-ordinator in the Communications and Sustainability department, and it’s me! With the current worldwide focus to wake up and change our ways of living and greening our planet, it seemed inevitable that this post should evolve in a department that is constantly seeking ways in which to communicate the “right” messages to our community, thus empowering them.

With the solid support of my new-found team, I will endeavour to draw attention to mainstream environmental issues such as greater awareness surrounding endangered species, our use of plastic shopping bags, drinking straws, balloons, bottled water, box strappings and many other crucial topics of our time. I am thrilled to be a part of this team that achieves so much every day, and look forward to a solid future collaborating on worthy projects with them. “Walking the talk” has never been this easy, now that I find myself surrounded by similarly inspired eco-beings!

It’s natural for all of us, no matter who you are, to occasionally feel a sense of eco-depression in relation to this amazing planet we live on. Taking action can go a long way to ensuring a renewed sense of true hope and, in “bioneer” Sarah Crowell’s words, “The way we’ll hold it together is to hold it – together.”

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