Some of the UK’s top entrepreneurs have attributed their business success to childhood nature experiences, such as building tree houses and making mud pies.
Inventor of the Dyson bagless vacuum Sir James Dyson and property guru Sarah Beeny emphasised the importance of access to nature for children, particularly if they are to become the innovators and entrepreneurs of the future.
Along with Bill Jordan, Ruth Badger, Richard Reed, and Cath Kidston, they are backing a Country Living magazine campaign that encourages children to spend more time outside.
Sir James said: “I think the Norfolk countryside gave me my first subconscious taste of engineering.
“Hours spent re-enacting heroic missions behind enemy lines – digging trenches, shoring up dams, engineering bunkers and making tree houses out of stolen timber.
“These days I’m more interested in conserving plants than ripping them out.”
Sarah Beeny credited her famous problem solving abilities to childhood play: “Nowadays in life, so much is handed to you on a plate; in nature, you can have a stick, a spade and some earth and you have to make up your mind what you’re going to do with it, like make mud pies.”
Bill Jordan, founder of Jordans Cereals, said having the countryside as his playground gave him the courage and ability to set up his own business.
The Apprentice’s Ruth Badger acquired her persuasive sales technique as a result of listening to stories told by her mother on nature walks, and retailer Cath Kidston developed her business acumen early, selling plants from the garden in her first shop at the age of twelve.
Richard Reed, co-founder of Innocent Drinks, said he felt his childhood understanding of the seasons led to an awareness of the cyclical nature of business.
Country Living Magazine’s Bring Back the Nature Table campaign was launched in February in response to research that shows UK children are losing touch with the natural environment.
The scheme encourages UK primary schools to reintroduce nature tables – complete with sticky buds, catkins and pussy willow – as an initial measure to help raise awareness of health and societal costs of children’s isolation from the natural world. According to research recently conducted by the magazine, only 45 per cent of UK parents and grandparents surveyed took their children out for regular walks, with few actually taking time to examine wildflowers and insects with them.
Dr William Bird, strategic health advisor for Natural England enlisted for his expertise as a GP by Country Living Magazine, said, “getting out into green spaces is absolutely vital for children, for their mental state and wellbeing”.