IT’s been a busy start to the year for Georgia Conolly. As well as helping to protect the wildlife of the east Berwickshire coast in her role as Marine Ranger at St Abbs & Eyemouth Voluntary Marine Reserve, she has now turned her hand to a spot of journalism, producing the Reserve’s own newsletter.
The first edition of ‘The Dahlia Mail’ is now hot off the press and Georgia said she was really pleased with the feedback she’d had from both local residents and those further afield.
“People seem to really like it; from what people have told me it seems like something that they wanted. I first came up with the idea of having a dedicated newsletter for the Reserve about a year ago. We work on a three year work plan and I thought it was something that we needed here.
“I’ve always liked designing things so I decided to give it a go and following a few meetings with designers and printers a few months ago we now have our first edition and I’m really pleased with how it has turned out.”
Issue one of ‘The Dahlia Mail’ includes stories on the positive work carried out at the Reserve such as volunteer efforts and scientific surveys but the front page story focuses on the slashing of fishermen’s creels (lobster pots) over the summer months and Georgia said she felt it was important that the newsletter didn’t shy away from the issues affecting those in and around the Reserve.
“Like everywhere else, what happens at the Reserve isn’t always positive so it’s particularly important with the newsletter being sent not just to locals but to other interested parties like dive organisations and tourists, that we cover both side of the story. Hopefully this could help prevent things like the slashing of creels from happening in the future.
“The Reserve is used by people of all walks of life and it’s important we cover issues important to them all.
“I’m really pleased with the pictures that people have sent in of things that they’ve seen while they’ve been here. For example two divers and local boat skipper Paul O’Callaghan spotted a sunfish (Mola mola) close to Black Carrs and John Penrose spotted an American mink (Neovision vision) exiting the water onto the rocks at St Abbs Harbour.
“Pictures of both of these discoveries are in the first edition of ‘The Dahlia Mail’.”
And it’s not just pictures that Georgia is keen for people to contribute to the newsletter, ‘The Dahlia Mail’ has its own section dedicated to people’s experiences of the Reserve.
She continued: “The idea behind ‘My VMR’ is to offer people a different perspective on the Reserve through someone else’s ideas. I’d love for people to send in their own stories but I’m also keen to interview people who can give a unique insight into what life is like here. For instance, we’ve had divers who have been coming up here since the 1960s and 70s and fishermen who have been working in the area just as long. I want to find out about the changes they’ve seen over the years and how their respective industries have been affected.”
Arguably the most eye catching thing about the Marine Reserve’s newsletter is it’s title and Georgia said as well as being a clever play on words on a certain national newspaper it was also a tribute to a species very close to the Reserve’s heart.
She added: “I’m not entirely sure how I came up with the title to be honest. I was toying around with some ideas in my head and that one sprung to mind. The Dahlia anemone is the official logo of the Reserve and a species many people can expect to see if they come up here.
“I’m confident that the newsletter is something that can run and run. The first edition took quite a bit of time to put together but I don’t envisage future issues taking as long as when I’m out and about I tend to spot a lot of interesting things that would be great for inclusion.
“As well as keeping everyone updated with what’s going on at the Reserve I’m hoping that the newsletter will help to draw potential tourists in.
“The newsletter is available in hard copy as well as email format so anyone who hasn’t got access to the internet should still be able to get hold of it.”
If you’d like a copy of ‘The Dahlia Mail’ or want to contribute something to a future edition email firstname.lastname@example.org.