Tracey West FRSA: CEO
In May 2014, sustainable living author Tracey West came up with an idea for a unique writing contest. She wanted to plant a tree for every entry and send people the GPS coordinates for their trees. A month later, the Magic Oxygen Literary Prize, or MOLP as it’s fondly known, was up and running and a huge swathe of deforested land in Bore, Kenya, was about to become her first Word Forest; she already had some well established trees in Bore, planted when she and Simon got married in 2012.
Bore was chosen with guidance from her trusted friend and global forestry expert, Ru Hartwell. He’d been helping this impoverished community for many years and knew them well. He also knew Kundeni Primary School – situated in the heart of Bore – desperately needed a classroom and so it was agreed that the contest would fund reforestation and the construction of a classroom too. Two classrooms and 71 acres later, Tracey and Simon’s philanthropy in Kenya is being formalised by creating The Word Forest Organisation.
Tracey was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts for environmental work and for founding InterNational Downshifting Week, an awareness campaign encouraging people to, ‘Slow Down and Green Up’ and was named one of the Top 100 Positive Influencers by The Ecologist. Since 2011, Tracey has been a proud, active Patron of the Women’s Action Network Dorset (a fundraising and public awareness arm that helps the West Dorset Women’s Refuge). She has recently retired from being a Trustee of the National Association for Children of Alcoholics for a decade and raised money for them by swimming a mile across Lake Windermere and the River Thames.
Her role as CEO will primarily focus on fundraising and raising awareness of environmental issues.
Simon West: Chair of Trustees and Managing Director
Simon is co-founder of The Word Forest Organisation. He’s also the Chief Editor and the IT backbone of Magic Oxygen Publishing. He brings to the table more than a decade of experience as a Trustee, committee member and broadcaster for Apple AM: Taunton Hospital Radio and two year’s experience as Chairman for them too. His vast technical expertise and organised mind have primed him perfectly for administering The Word Forest Organisation.
Simon is a passionate advocate for simple, green living and welcomes the opportunity to share his knowledge both locally and in the wider world. One of his dreams was always to plant a forest and with the Magic Oxygen Literary Prize, that dream became a wonderful reality.
As Chair of Trustees, he’ll ensure the board and membership are apprised of news and key events and he’ll make sure the board have everything they need to support and raise funds for the organisation.
He lives on the Jurassic Coast in Lyme Regis, Dorset, has a soft spot for organic Fairtrade chocolate, drives an electric car and loves his vegan life.
Rikey Austin: Trustee
An extremely high standard, ethical retailer of teddy bears and crafting kits who also has broad fundraising experience and front-line knowledge of the disadvantaged communities and children living in The Jungle in Calais.
Rikey is a designer and author who believes passionately in the importance of good ethics in all aspects of our lives. Convinced that putting people and the planet before profit is not only the best way to protect the vital assets we hold in trust, but is also sound business practice.
She was unimaginably proud to be offered the chance to work with The Word Forest Organisation as, “In one enormous, leafy hug it brings together people and the planet and creates something truly wonderful.”
Rikey has worked on numerous charitable design projects over the years including Unicef’s Change for Good and Cancer Research UK’s Jilly Bear, saying that her role as a designer, above all, gives her the platform to make a difference and that is it’s greatest gift.
Originally born in the Midlands, she now lives on the Dorset coast with her husband, a fossil hunter, and their children. As a family, they all recognise the luck that brings them to such a peaceful home. They have spent the last year fundraising for refugees displaced by war and have made two trips volunteering in the notorious Jungle camp in Calais; an experience that was heartbreaking and heart lifting in equal measure.
Ru Hartwell: Trustee
Our extremely knowledgeable Word Forest Coordinator for Kundeni School in Bore, was born in South Africa and has wide experience of forestry management and community development projects in a range of Third World contexts.
Ru is a resourceful fundraiser with many practical construction skills; he recently spent 6 weeks in Bore and self-funded the construction of the Forest Centre. He knows the local community well, having been working with them for close to 10 years and over that time has helped implement some 30 sustainable development projects – many focused on education.
He has first-hand knowledge of many schools that need assistance in Coast Province and is keen to see the Word Forest model expand regionally within Kenya to benefit the children, their communities and this fragile atmosphere that we all share.
Favourite quote: “Education is the most powerful tool that you can use to change the world” – Nelson Mandela.
Helen Roberts: Trustee
She has first-hand experience of twinning UK and international primary schools and has lots of fundraising experience too, having been Chairwoman of a local School PFA for a decade.
She is a terrific cook with a penchant for baking. Her speciality is cakes, breads and savouries – she does a terrific range of vegan and gluten free options too – which have helped raise money at countless events.
Helen is a single mother of two girls and completely unafraid of any challenge placed before her.
She contributed to the birth of the first Word Forest back in 2012 and is looking forward watching it flourish and other Word Forests coming to life!
She lives in Somerset with her children, two energetic Labradors and two cats.
Izzy Robertson: Trustee
Izzy trained as a physiotherapist and worked for 15 years in the NHS. She is now a complementary therapist, treating individual clients as well as running community clinics to make complementary therapies more accessible.
She’s also a successful fantasy fiction author and a valued editor who has been an integral part of Magic Oxygen Publishing since its inception. She is a talented creative writer, an occasional performer of poetry and prose and has a regular seat on the judging panel of the international Magic Oxygen Literary Prize. Her wide experience, both in the literary field and as a therapist, has allowed her to develop excellent communication and organisational skills.
Izzy has volunteered for various organisations over the years, including being a founding member of Transition Town Thorncombe, which was actually the first village to gain status. She is a tremendous fundraiser and feels strongly that we are all connected on this planet and that we can all make a positive difference to it.
Favourite quote: “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness” – Dalai Lama.