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Saving Planet Earth
Cheryl Baker's quest
By Alex Beard
The familiar face of Cheryl Baker seems synonymous with the East End, Bucks Fizz and Record Breakers but lately Cheryl has become something of a country bumpkin. She donned her wellies in attempt to help save three rare South East species.
Born and brought up in London, as a child Cheryl could be found exploring the city parks. “I used to rescue injured birds and keep caterpillars in match boxes. Perhaps not the best idea but I really thought I was helping them!”
Cheryl presenting Saving Planet Earth
Knowing that Cheryl has lived in Kent for almost 12 years with a fondness for wildlife, the decision to make her the presenter of the South East edition of the BBC’s ‘Saving Planet Earth’ series seemed a logical one. “I was so excited to be asked. I had no idea it was to be part of such a major series. I am thrilled that it has been shown so much.”
The programme featured three locally endangered species: the Beaver, the Hazel Dormouse and the Adonis Blue butterfly. “It’s refreshing that it is not just about large animals found globally but about animals that could be in your own back yard.” Cheryl does have a large garden brimming with wildlife but admits that its inhabitants have to share it with her lively dogs. “There are lots of trees where I live and I immediately started looking at cracked nuts and seeds to see if there were any signs of dormice – there wasn’t!”
Whilst filming for the series, Cheryl was lucky enough to observe beavers in their own habitat. “Beavers are definitely my favourite! I had no idea they were resident to the UK and to see an endangered species thriving again is so exciting.” For those who are interested in catching a glimpse themselves, Cheryl does have a word of advice, “Beaver watching takes all day. It is not something you can fit into an hour!” It would seem that searching for the Adonis Blue butterfly was not a matter of stepping into your back garden either. Cheryl scaled hillsides in the Malling Down nature reserve for some time until she stumbled across the small treasure, “It was breathtaking. The colour was so vibrant.”
Perhaps the most endearing of the animals featured was the Hazel Dormouse. Not the most popular of houseguests yet when asked if she would mind them running around her house, Cheryl replied, “I really wouldn’t mind.”
However it would seem that not all animals are welcome in the Baker house. “My daughter is terrified of spiders which I just don’t understand. She has seen me ignore them or pick them up and put them outside.”
The endangered Adonis blue butterfly
I just love wildlife, I find it so fascinating. It is the same world we live in and yet they just get on with it. We can’t live without cars, mobiles and computers whereas the animal world goes on like it always has.”
Cheryl’s memories of Kent stretch back to her childhood, “We used to holiday in Leysdown on the Isle of Sheppey. We would stay in the same chalet every year with lots of fields and there would always be something different in it. That’s what I love about the countryside: there is nothing to do but enjoy and get on with it.” And enjoy it she must as she has no plans to leave her rural location in Kent. “I moved here when I became pregnant but now I couldn’t live anywhere else.”
last updated: 23/08/07