Strolling through the foliage, talking passionately about woodlice straight to the camera, Heather Nichol is already an accomplished television presenter. Remember her name because in a few years she could be on our screens fronting nature documentaries during prime time.
For now, the videos that she makes with her husband Jim Lampard are a form of alchemy. Heather is in front of the camera and Jim is behind it. And that is the entire team at the Bristol Nature Channel, produced from their home in Cotham.
The pair work together in the editing process before uploading the finished video to YouTube. They are slowly growing an audience of loyal viewers online, and also intrigued passers-by in Millennium Square who stop walking to watch episodes broadcast on the big screen.
For her day job, Heather works in At-Bristol on the live science team and Jim works for an energy company. They got married in the summer and can now once again devote more free time to their shared pastime, aiming to produce up to two new videos a month.
Bristol Nature Channel may have only been founded in January, but their awards cabinet is already filling up with the channel named winner of the Bristol Science Film Festival local category.
“Everybody needs to get passionate to protect the natural world,” says Heather, enjoying an after-work drink overlooking the Floating Harbour on a recent evening. “If we can inspire that curiosity from our channel, that would be amazing.”
The channel focuses on the everyday elements of nature and also the seasons, with video subjects so far including slugs, lichen and daffodils, with hedgehogs next on the list.
With a background in science – her specialism is bat conservation – Heather chooses the topics and writes the scripts, and then she and Jim head to locations that have so far included Ashton Court, Royal Fort Gardens and Brandon Hill to film the piece over the course of a day, with their equipment often carried on the back of a bicycle.
They have even traveled to the roof of At-Bristol to film the beehive:
“We want to show people what’s out there,” Heather says. “Show people things that they didn’t know about.”
Heather, 27, originally from Oxford, and Jim, 28, from the New Forest via London, both moved to Bristol three years ago. They met each other soon afterwards and went on their first date watching a mass ascent at the Balloon Fiesta.
The channel is a way of combining their skills and a chance for Jim to make nature videos – a passion that brought him to Bristol looking for a job but which so far remains just a hobby.
Heather learnt her presenting skills in At-Bristol, while Jim has been playing with cameras from an early age. With the Bristol Nature Channel, he says that he always tries to look for interesting images.
“I like to get down there among the slugs and the bluebells,” Jim laughs. “I’m always looking for the next shot of an animal or bug or plant.”
Jim has big plans in store for some future shots including using a newly acquired drone for what promises to be stunning aerial footage.
“It’s like we are creating a little nature community,” Heather says. “Last night someone sent me a YouTube video of hedgehogs in their garden. People are engaging with the nature around them and using us to share their enjoyment.”
To watch more videos, visit www.youtube.com/bristolnaturechannel
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