My week

Melanie Shepherd, chief executive, the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

Melanie Shepherd
Melanie Shepherd

Monday Lusaka, Zambia. During a fleeting awareness and fundraising trip, news reached Rupiah Banda, Zambia's president, that we were in town. Dad - artist and conservationist David Shepherd - is with me on this trip. He loves Zambia and has been supporting conservation since his first visit in the 1960s. Locals affectionately know him as "a Zambian living in London", such is his influence there.

That the president agreed to see us was exciting. More amazing was the private plane he sent to collect us. Flying over our new project in the Kafue National Park is breathtaking. Seeing the park from the air reaffirms its viability as a rich and virtually untouched wildlife resource.

Getting the president's support for our park protection programme and elephant orphanage would be a huge boost. Things go well and we come away with renewed hope. The frustration is that hope may be as fragile as it is hard won.

Tuesday I'm back in Surrey, and there is only a week to go before our major fundraising event in London. The foundation's tiny team, and our wonderful volunteers, are at full stretch. Bringing together three major art exhibitions and more than 100 artists can be mind-blowingly complex. Art and egos need careful management.

I'm caught up with emails and calls, confirming celebrity guests including ex-England cricketer David Gower and Sir Michael Parkinson, both long-term supporters - and, of course, dad, who is hosting his first London retrospective as part of the foundation's 25th anniversary.

Wednesday I spend the morning chivvying my 23-year-old daughter, Emily, to get her paintings ready and calling my sister Mandy, a successful watercolourist, to do the same. Emily paints in her studio - our garden shed - and is turning out amazing work. Sure, I'm her mother, but she's had three sell-out shows, so I'm not the only one who thinks she's talented. I'm bursting with pride for my family and feel privileged to work with them and the other artists who support us.

Thursday I mostly work from home about 10 minutes away, but today I'm in the office catching up with the team. I rush home, and in between emails I manage to grab supper with my daughters and a husband who, as ever, is just passing through. He even signs the visitors book these days.

Friday It's up at first light for a quick walk with the dogs before the calls start and the time differences from the projects around the world make me lose sense of time. Trying to deal long-distance with bloody-minded bureaucracy is frustrating, and continued reports of senseless cruelty and voracious poaching are heartbreaking. But it's what drives me and keeps me fighting for what I, my family and my team believe in.

- The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation works to save endangered mammals in the wild

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