Calum

Calum, aged 13, attends Dorothy Stringer High School in Brighton. He is passionate about butterflies and insects, and is greatly involved in his school’s environmental department.

David Bellamy came to visit the school’s butterfly haven and he spoke to Calum who had his own display of different specimens. He was so impressed by Calum’s enthusiasm and dedication that he offered him the opportunity to attend an ecology course in Corfu! For Calum this is a trip of a lifetime, but unfortunately financially impossible for his family. He has spent many months trying to raise enough money to go, and even approached the school newspaper to advertise his plight and offer his labour to fund the trip. Through a lot of hard work Calum managed to raise around 20% of the cost of the trip, however the balance remained out of his reach.

The Trust felt that this was a very worthwhile cause as this could be a life changing trip for Calum, one which he thoroughly deserves. Knowing we could put a huge smile on Calum’s face we have agreed to pay for the trip in its entirety. Calum is thrilled and has agreed he will keep a diary of the trip to share with us; full details and photos will be posted on this site as soon as they are available. The money Calum has raised so far himself will be his spending money.

Calum’s Diary

Corfu was a place I had always wanted to visit. After reading Gerald Durrell’s vivid descriptions of the Greek island’s wildlife and landscapes, it sounded, to me, like a sort of special paradise. So few people could be more excited than myself when I was invited to attend a course on the island by Professor David Bellamy! The course itself was to cover a variety of topics, loosely orientated around the history of gardening and agriculture in Greece and Corfu, and their affects on the area’s natural ecology and wellbeing. Best of all, the course, entitled Garden of the Gods and based at The Durrell School of Corfu, would feature many field expeditions in the Corfiot countryside, which would allow me to look further into what I found most interesting about the island (and indeed the world) - its wildlife, and in particular, its insects.
Our first day on the island was varied and incessantly interesting. During the morning, myself, my Mum, David Bellamy and two friends on the island travelled up into the mountainous hills of Perithia , which were swathed with wildflowers and alive with butterflies, including swallowtails and white admirals. Crickets, cockroaches and plan-bugs were everywhere, and we also spotted some green lizards and snakes on our walk. Later, while several of the people running the course discussed the week ahead, I explored Gerald Durrell’s ‘Beach of white lillies’, and, while rockpooling along the beach, discovered that Corfu’s aquatic animals and plants are as amazing as its terrestrial life. That evening, myself and other members of the course set up a moth-trap on a hillside, which attracted many spectacular species; notable amongst these was the beautiful cream-spot tiger, a large and colourful insect which was particularly popular among the other members of the course. We ran a moth-trap almost every night, bringing in some fantastic insects. Longhorn beetles, tiger moths, and my personal favourite moths - the hawkmoths - were all lured in during the week.
The next day began with a brilliant lecture by David (Bellamy) on Gerald Durrell, including information on his life and work, as well as great expression of his sheer brilliance. This was followed by a talk on the history of Eastern Mediterranean agriculture, looking at the geographical origin of certain crops, and how the use of pesticides in the olive groves has damaged the island’s ecology. The week was packed with fantastic lectures on a variety of topics, including Greek poetry, natural history, and how a lack of exposure to nature can damage children. And the week’s trips were amazing, too. These included visiting an offshore island, taking a trip to a traditional Greek vineyard and winery, going on a boat-trip to the South of the Island (taking a stop for snorkeling on the way), where we took a fantastic coastal walk, and visiting a breeding programme for a rare breed of native Greek horse. These trips gave everyone on the course a wonderful taste of Corfu, a truly amazing place.

My trip to Corfu was a life-changing event. I have met some wonderful people there, and I intend to stay in touch with all of them. I couldn’t be more grateful for the funding and support that The Edward Starr Trust gave me, making a truly magical trip happen. Corfu is an incredible place, and one which I hope to return to in the future.