This week I was lucky enough to hear from Cal Major; veterinary surgeon, ocean advocate and world record holding stand up paddleboarder. When I was younger I went to a film festival focusing on women in extreme sports. I was captivated by Cal’s story of paddleboarding singlehandedly around the Isle of Skye in Scotland, so hearing about what else she’s been up to in the past couple of years was really interesting and incredibly inspiring.
Photo by James Appleton
Hey Cal, thanks for taking the time to chat to us! How was 2020 for you in a nutshell?
2020 was weird! I think it was for most people though. I think I experienced more emotions in one year than I have in the rest of my life put together! However it also brought hope that as a society we CAN do things differently, we can make change rapidly when needed and we can come together as communities to support a common need.
Did you launch any campaigns in 2020 and what was the outcome?
I spent a lot of 2020 getting Seaful registered as a charity. It’s been a mission of mine for a couple of years, and anyone who has set up a charity will understand the amount of work needed! The charity’s aim is to reconnect more people to our ocean and blue spaces, to help people find their own personal relationship with the water. Any of us who spend time in blue spaces know how amazing it is for our mental health, but I want to help more people find that connection, and to inspire and empower stewardship of our natural world as a result. We got the charity registered in late 2020, so are currently concentrating on getting it launched!
Do you have any big plans for 2021? Tell us about your campaigns for the coming year.
I do have some big plans for this year, starting with launching Seaful, and our film series, Vitamin Sea TV. We have a really exciting collaboration with the Midcounties Co-operative with Seaful, helping connect people to nature. Then later in the year I have a big paddleboard expedition planned, Covid-permitting. I’m a member of the Our Seas Coalition, campaigning for the protection of the seabed around Scotland from bottom trawling, which is basically dragging heavy metal bars along the sea bed and destroying everything in its path, so I’m linking my expedition in with that to try and gather more public support. You can check out the campaign and film all about this at http://www.ourseas.scot
What are you hoping to achieve in the new year?
I’m really looking forward to getting the charity up and running. As I know most of the people reading this will, I feel so strongly about protecting our beautiful natural world, and sharing it with as many people as possible! However without a personal connection to nature, we can’t expect anyone to really want to look after it. It’s hard to believe that anyone could not love the ocean in the environmental campaigning bubbles we live in, but facilitating those connections is such a crucial first step for so many.
Is there anything you’d like to encourage people to do differently this year?
I think we all need a break from screens! I would encourage people to find mindful moments throughout their day to connect with nature, even if that’s just a plant on your patio or a park down the road. It can do wonders for our mental health, and the healthier we are and the more connected to our environment, the better stewards we can be for our planet and our ocean.
What did you learn from 2020?
We are resilient, and yet we are vulnerable. Strength in our communities and connections is so vital.
You may have heard of our #2minutesofpositivity campaign – what small thing do you do each day to put a smile on your face?
I go for a little walk every morning as soon as I wake up, down to the water. It is often, especially during lockdown, the best part of my day. I am really conscious of being mindful and focus on the birds, their song, their little fluffy bellies, the sunlight beginning to appear and the sound of the wind in the trees. It’s SO simple, and yet it truly makes the difference between me having a good or a bad day. I wrote a blog with some tips for it here: https://www.kleankanteen.co.uk/blogs/news/recommendations-for-a-mindful-morning-walk
To learn more about Cal Major and the environmental work that she does you can visit her website by clicking here.