Claire Hector is quite a girl. Traveller, former editorial staffer on some of the most iconic national magazines and now busy environmentalist. Just keep her off the coffee because she has a million interesting stories to tell and you could be with her for some time!
Claire used to come to the Island as a child but it was a long illness that brought her to what is now her home. The restorative powers of fresh air and Island life enabled her to become well again and to begin with she took a one day a week job helping to restore rivers and organizing wildlife projects with schools and community groups. Her work at Island 2000 Trust and Spectrum, and now Arc Consulting and Vectis Housing, has subsequently given Claire a brief to explore the Island. “It was working on an access to nature project, all about introducing people to nature on their doorstep, and particularly for ‘hard to reach’ groups that gave me a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the Island.”
Her origins were rather different though. She started off at Virgin Records as she says ‘just by accident’ working for the actual record label. It was a life of enormous parties, a huge pink office and meeting stars. But really as Claire says it was her ‘raison d’etre’ to save up and go travelling – something she has always had a passion for. She went round the world, lived in Sydney for two years and returned to London where she got a job as an editorial assistant at Q Magazine (beating 800 other applicants). “It was a really wonderful time and a lot of the people that I worked with have become well known TV figures.” Those days were seen as the golden age of magazines – in the days before the internet and the new digital era and Claire helped out on the launch of Mojo, and from there to Elle Decoration under the endlessly stylish Ilse Crawford in the late nineties. The irony of the change from music magazines to the upper echelons of style were not lost on Claire, “You went from an environment where you were having cups of tea and bacon sarnies from the cafe round the corner to Elle Deco where the deputy editor had us all drinking out of bowls and there was wheatgrass on the windowsill.”
Happy times but now she is here on the Island championing the importance of wildlife encounter and putting healthy green spaces back into urban areas. Very different to Elle Deco but is she happy? Yes she is.
I go from wellies to wedges so I wouldn’t know (Ilse Crawford the editor of Elle Deco told me she believed that as long as you had good shoes and nice hair, it didn’t matter what you put on in between. She was wearing Manolos but with a dog-hairy jumper and trackies at the time… )
Money equals success?
Success to me isn’t related to money at all. I’ve met people here and on my travels who to me are massively successful precisely because material acquisition isn’t what motivates them –sharing knowledge and innovation, stimulating growth and well-being, learning and genuine achievement is.
What does Island living mean to you?
This place is a total smorgasbord of stimulating and diverse things – landscapes, wildlife, people, architecture, independent shops and cafes, music, art, colour – and all within easy reach. It’s like one of those kaleidoscopes where you give it a shake and discover new shapes.
Icons or inspirations?
I get inspired by people and things on a daily basis! I’ve met some genuinely phenomenal people here on the Island alone – my friends and colleagues at Arc, Eccleston George and new project Wild about Wight are all once-in-a-lifetime people. My family’s magic humour, resilience and mischief are all inspirations.
It’s very varied. One day, the team may be working on masterplanning for a development, next a greenspace consultation or enhancement with young families, another a planning meeting for regulators and authorities on rivers or bats
As it’s an eco-issue… plant something pollen and nectar-rich at home and at work – even if it’s on a windowsill… there’s loads of research so I’m not just tree- hugging but wildlife encounter and greenery is good for us – works for me!
Facing the future?
I think we’re living in a time of enormous challenges, but that means the future’s full of possibility. Finding the right ways forward with combined effort, ways to overcome challenges like loss of biodiversity, how we make space for that amongst an increasingly city-based urban population and sea level rise… all of this seems to be sparking globally incredible imagination, innovation and creativity – like a proper modern Renaissance.