Norfolk blogger wins the prize of a lifetime
- Credit: Archant
Kate Stephenson's account of how travel and connecting with nature in Saint Lucia helped her to manage mental health issues during pregnancy, has won the trip many can only dream of.
Kate Stephenson's pregnancy hadn't been easy. She ached. It was playing havoc with her immune system. She hadn't had a good night's sleep in months. She could feel herself sliding into depression.
Then when she was six months along, she went on a work trip to Saint Lucia.
"Every pregnancy is different, but mine was tough, and I felt like I was losing myself in it all," says Norwich based Kate, creator of the travel, wildlife and environmental conservation blog Kate on Convservation. "Stepping outside in a new place, discovering news things for myself again, and using wildlife spotting as a way to swap anxiety for fresh air, sunshine and exercise gave me a little bit of myself back."
She decided to blog about the trip and her account of what it was like travelling while pregnant won the Judge's First Runner-Up award in eco tourism company Terra Incognita's Travel Blogger of the Year 2020 competition, with a prize including a trip of a lifetime to Peru and Costa Rica. The social enterprise aims to promote the best examples of ethical ecotourism worldwide and Kate will have the chance to use her writing skills to share her experience with a large global audience through their website.
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"Saint Lucia is a wonderful place to visit at all times, but having the opportunity to go there six months into my pregnancy meant that preparing for the experience was probably very different from if I had have visited at any other time - but once you've got your head around swapping mojitos for mosquito spray, that's where focusing on ecotours and engaging with nature really comes into its own,"says Kate, who has spent the last three years working as education editor for National Geographic Kids.
"I was initially apprehensive about travelling at this time in my life - but I had work commitments and realised I could actually get a lot from it. In the end, it was a very healing experience, and I hope that writing about that honestly will give a different spin to my travel writing," she adds.
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Kate writes beautifully about her six day trip - and how the more time she spent immersed in nature, the more she felt like herself. Throughout the journey Kate is searching for the Saint Lucian parrot, the island's national bird. But she is also searching for herself.
"I went swimming and felt the weight lifting," she says. "I got a full night's sleep for the first time in months."
Kate, who grew up in Thetford, and lived in London before relocating back to Norfolk with her husband and children, has a lifelong passion for animals and the environment. She has supported the Born Free Foundation since she was six years old organising table top sales and in 2017 she became its youngest trustee. Last year she was highly commended at the Animal Star Awards in the Animal Hero category.
With the climate crisis and global warming at the top of the agenda, many of us are trying to live our lives in more sustainable ways - and Kate says she's encouraged to see people considering the environment when making choices about their lifestyle.
"I feel really optimistic," she says. "When I went vegan and adopted a plant-based life it was really hard to get hold of vegan products, but now it's mainstream and Joaquin Phoenix is talking about it at the Oscars. People care and we've seen a huge shift in people's lifestyle choices, whether it's cutting down on the amount of plastic they use or cutting down on meat. And the best thing is that children are so switched on to it. I worked for Discovery Education for nearly three years and then National Geographic Kids and I've seen how much children love animals and care about the environment. Children are influencing their parents. That's the future."
Read Kate's winning blog at kateonconservation.com