Matthew Chatfield

Matthew Chatfield is the creator and editor of Naturenet, the internet's online resource for practical nature conservation and countryside management. To see Matthew's full CV click here.

Not only is Matthew the editor of Naturenet, he is employed as Gift to Nature Manager by the Island 2000 Trust.

Born in Sussex, 1967, to a clergy family, his arrival was heralded by a cartoon in the local paper suggesting that his mother, Janet, was about to bear three other sons named Mark, Luke and John. This did not occur, for which he was heartily grateful and no doubt so was she.

His father, Norman, was a Canon Residentiary at Gloucester Cathedral until 2002, when he retired. No, he wasn't fired. Matthew was brought up, indeed, as the son of a gun.

Along with his two sisters Bec and Liz his childhood was spent on the Isle of Wight and in various parts of South Hampshire. Living in sundry vicarages for most of that time he became adept at dealing with questions such as "Are you going to be a monk when you grow up?"; "Is your dad a Catholic or Protestant?" (think about that one for a bit); and "Don't you sound like your father?"


Matthew's first moment of fame was appearing on Central TV's Blockbusters quiz in about 1984. He got numerous questions wrong but won £205, and had several more questions subtly edited as he was too impertinent to Bob Holness.

Bob Holness
Bob Holness, host of Blockbusters

This heady moment was followed by leading his school team to complete disaster on BBC radio Top Of The Form, indeed so badly did they do that the whole series was halted shortly after, and has not been heard since.

Matthew went to University at Durham, where he read Zoology and attended Van Mildert College. There he, along with a few colleagues, skated the thin ice of satire with the ground-breaking publication Unknown Pleasure. This offended almost everyone, and lost large sums of money. It remains one of his proudest achievements. In more recent years he attempted to relive those heady days by intermittently contributing improprietous material to the shortlived tongue-in-cheek staff magazine Desk Jockey at the Isle of Wight Council. This was never available publicly, which was probably for the best.


Below: a single frame from the epic 'Dr Filth and the Zombies of Death' published by Unknown Pleasure in 1986. Featuring Ruth A Hutson (Now Ruth D'Alessandro) as Letitia and Dr A. von S. Bradshaw as 'the Monster'
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Image (c) Chatsoft 1998 (p)Unknown Pleasure 1986

After leaving Durham fairly hastily he worked voluntarily for the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers, for want of anything better to do.

Eventually Hampshire County Council were rash enough to offer him a job as ranger, and were able to get rid of him five years later having made him Senior Ranger and then Site Manager of Westwood Woodland Park, Southampton. He then joined the National Trust as its youngest Property Manager ever, working at Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve until June 1997. During this time he learnt about how to live in the country, wear a tweed jacket and talk about 'dirty carrots' with a straight face. He also became father to Bill.

Matthew was then employed by Basildon District Council as Manager of Countryside Services. Despite knowing nothing about boats except how to get onto the Gosport Ferry without paying, he was also in charge of Wat Tyler Marina and the National Motorboat Museum. In summer 1998 his second son, Jack was born an Essex boy.

After this merry-go-round of jobs, in February 1999 he arrived, and still remains, back on the Isle of Wight; more or less where his adventures began. He worked for the Isle of Wight Council initially as Senior Countryside Officer, and eventually as Parks and Countryside Manager where beaches, allotments, horticulture, biodiversity and more were added to his impressive range of things to sound knowledgable about. He also unexpectedly found success as a local restaurant reviewer. Since 2011 he's been dividing his time equally between working for the council and his own design and media company, Pinkeye Graphics Ltd.

In 2016 the council finally worked out how to get rid of Matthew without paying him off, and to make sure it stuck they abolished the entire countryside section, transferring Matthew, plus most of the sites and staff to a hitherto small environmental charity on the Isle of Wight called Gift to Nature.

 

Matthew has appeared on TV's Countryfile programme talking knowledgeably about several things he knows nothing about

Media triumphs include appearing in the Isle of Wight County Press as 'Michelle Chadwick' - complete with photograph; reviewing the morning papers on BBC Radio Solent and BBC Radio Cambridgeshire; having a picture he did not take credited to him in The Guardian; hosting a TV crew from Channel 4 who insisted on spraying leopard urine all over the place; being the subject of a vitriolic (but quite fair) attack by the famed 'Twitcher in the Swamp' in British Wildlife Magazine; actually getting a regular column in his beloved Isle of Wight County Press; and publicly supervising (from a great distance) the removal of about five years worth of foetid sewage from a levitating manhole in Basildon. Surely the only way is up?

 

Matthew enjoys holding the company of his lovely girlfriend Cat, eating locally-produced cheese and beef, preferably all at the same time! He also likes designing websites, eating out, reading, shooting aliens (he's an Unreal Tournament and TF2 bore), walking in the countryside and collecting gates.

 

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Cat

Cat

 

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