Lewis – I am a humanitarian consultant and currently also Director of the Humanitarian Learning Centre at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at Sussex University. I have done humanitarian work for most of my professional life, starting off in a refugee camp in Central Africa and then working for many years in the immediate aftermath of big disasters. Once we had a young family I switched to more policy work, and trying to improve the quality of the aid we give, although I still get involved in disaster responses from time to time too.
Helen – I am currently studying for a PhD in Ecology at the University of Sussex. I’m investigating how disused landfill sites can be restored to provide new habitats for plants and insects, particularly pollinators like bees and butterflies.
This is a completely new direction for me. Having worked in International Development I put my work on the back-burner while our children were small so that I could be at home with them. Studying again is an intellectual challenge to say the least and I hope to work locally in conservation when I finish.
Passions and interests
Lewis – I’m passionate about humanitarian work. I believe it is within our grasp to eradicate hunger and easily preventable diseases. Acute poverty and the type of vicious wars that we see in Syria today should be consigned to history.
Apart from this I love running! My greatest joy is getting out onto the downs and running in little explored corners where you see wildlife or the passing of the seasons. I’ve been known to have a go at a few road marathons too, although I’m never entirely sure why.
(Lewis has a marathon PB of 2:36 and has represented England in his age group)
Helen – I love nature, outdoors and green space. I think it’s important to get out and enjoy the great outdoors. Like many other people, I’m very troubled by the loss of biodiversity and wild places.
With three teenagers life is busy helping and supporting them, hoping they will stay happy, healthy and go on to do interesting things. I’m passionate about giving them a good start in life and providing a stable home.
But…I always make time to run! We’re lucky to live in a beautiful part of the country with the South Downs on our doorstep. I love to run with friends, or on my own plugged into my playlist!
(Helen’s marathon best is 3:08 and she has also represented England)
How financial planning has helped you
Lewis – Financial planning is liberating, because it gives me control of my work life. Prior to doing financial planning properly I was unsure how much I needed to save, or how long I needed to work for. As a result of planning I’m much clearer about this aspect of my life and actually it turns out I don’t have to work as much as I thought I had to!!
Helen – Financial planning was an eye opener! We didn’t really understand before what our options were or how to make projections about our financial security. With the kids hoping to go to University, and other financial commitments it’s a relief to be clear about how we can afford it.
One bit of advice you’d give your 20 year old self
Lewis – Chill out! Life’s a lot longer than you think.
Helen – You can do it! With energy and perseverance, you can achieve all sorts of things.
Lewis – This is much harder. I think something like William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, although I also love – same period, same American stylised – Steinbeck’s Cannery Row
I also love George Orwell’s essays. I love the language, and the peculiar blend of proud to be English and imagining a more egalitarian world socialism.
Helen – Last year though I read “My Brilliant Friend” by Elena Ferrante, I enjoyed it so much I read her next four books.