EOCA was first established and run in 2006 by Mark Held, who was also running the European Outdoor Group (EOG). In 2009, Mark recruited Tanya Bascombe specifically to lead the Association as it grew. Then in 2011, Catherine Savidge was also recruited to jointly run EOCA with Tanya. Both working part time, and job sharing the role of General Manager, Tanya and Catherine have been responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Association ever since, overseeing the growth of the organisation in that time, in terms of fundraising, membership numbers and conservation on the ground.
Prior to EOCA, Tanya had had a number of roles in PR and marketing, both outside the outdoor industry as well as in the industry. Having trained in marketing, she worked for Lowe Alpine and The North Face as well as Kendal Mountain Festival, for example. Catherine came from a conservation background, having trained in environmental biology and forestry, worked for WWF UK running their partnership with businesses working on their responsible timber and paper sourcing policies as well as for a number of companies on this same issue. The combination of Tanya’s PR and marketing and outdoor industry experience and Catherine’s forestry and conservation background have been exceptionally useful in the development of EOCA.
“The job is very varied which makes it continually interesting” said Tanya. “Between us, we approach new companies to join EOCA, work with existing partners and organise large fundraising events, all to raise money for conservation. We also assess all funding applications from conservation organisations, and monitor the implementation of projects to ensure that agreed objectives are met and payments made. We work with media partners to promote EOCA, the successes of the conservation projects, and to host the biannual vote to enable the public to help us choose which projects to fund. This initiative has grown into a very successful process, raising awareness of important conservation issues with over 36.5 million people in 2015.”
“It is very rewarding work, seeing our efforts resulting in large amounts of money being raised from the European outdoor sector and being spent on vital conservation work around the world” said Catherine. “We do not know of any other sector working together to make a difference in this way and we are very proud to be a part of making this happen. We can only make this happen however, thanks to all of our supportive partners – our Members, our Board, our Scientific Advisors, our Media Partners and the conservation organisations delivering the work on the ground.”
Making a job share work successfully can sometimes be a tricky one. However, Tanya and Catherine put their successful working partnership down to three main things: good communication, being very similar people in their interests and outlook on life, and having a good amount of cross over time each week to work on things together. Outside of work, both Catherine and Tanya have very similar interests – both enjoy a range of activities in the great outdoors in the Lake District, in the North of England including walking, biking, canoeing, and open water swimming, both have two daughters, and both enjoy reducing their impact on the world by keeping chickens, growing veg, installing solar panels and of course recycling!