My Week: Hilary Allison is caught up in the ash tree dieback crisis

The policy director at the Woodland Trust recounts her week

Hilary Allison
Hilary Allison

Monday: The ash tree dieback crisis is in full swing, so I grab a few minutes to clear my diary. The trust's Volunteer of the Year awards are being held today in our offices in Grantham, Lincolnshire, so I take a moment to listen to the inspiring thoughts of the winner. Then it's time for a conference call with the government to hear the latest situation on the ash crisis.

Tuesday: We have a meeting of the trust's management team and it's my turn to chair. The team agrees a three-point plan: bringing forward a citizen science project on spotting tree diseases early, changing the way we work with tree nurseries and holding an international conference. Being in the middle of a national crisis is both nerve-racking and energising.

Wednesday: I'm off to London today for the government's emergency summit on ash dieback. I've been asked to say a few words to introduce the workshop session. Afterwards I'm asked for numerous media interviews. I've done a few over the years, but trying to hear properly, think straight and say all I need to live on national TV by a busy road in central London isn't easy. The team back in Grantham text me to say that cheering broke out when I talked about our three-point plan.

Thursday: I have a day back in the office to catch up. No rest this evening: I dash home to attend an orchestral rehearsal for a concert next weekend - I play the violin.

Friday: This is usually my day off, but I'm in the office to finish an urgent report on ash dieback for our trustees - only to be asked at 10.45am to do more media interviews. After a dash by train from Grantham, I make it to London in time for a pre-recorded interview for Newsnight and live interviews for BBC News and Sky News. The Newsnight researcher calls again to ask if I could appear on the live panel at 10.30pm. Just as I gear myself up, he calls to cancel. I'm home at 9pm and ask our PR team for the weekend off, having done 10 national TV and radio interviews in eight days.

The Woodland Trust is the UK's largest woodland conservation charity.

Hilary Allison is policy director at the Woodland Trust

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