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EN alumnus and Professor of Evolutionary Biology and Science Engagement at the University of East Anglia, Ben Garrod, returned to his former college this week with an entertaining and inspirational talk to students.

Ben spoke with humour and passion about his journey from EN to his travels around the World as an author, broadcaster and conservationist. He explained how his initial plans to become a doctor were replaced by a passion for animals and conservation and how that drive has led him to travel across the globe, from the Arctic, West Africa, Indonesia and his current conservation work in Liberia.

He told students about his initial meeting with his heroine Dr.Jane Goodall, his first steps in broadcasting, from a brief appearance on Springwatch to working with the legend Sir David Attenborough.

Ben also explained that not every career or future is planned logically and that getting as much practical experience in the areas that you are most interested in and passion about is just as important. He spoke of the ‘Swiss Army Knife’ approach, where you have lots of skills and knowledge built up from the experiences you go through in life, that help to make you better even if they are not always enjoyable.

Following his talk, Ben came face to face with current student Ben Garrod, a grade 8 pianist who has just won a Norfolk Young Musician Award. The two Bens chatted about the links between music and the study of primates and even spoke about playing the piano outside an enclosure to see the animal’s reactions.

Ben spoke fondly of his time at the College and said: “EN is so good. We live in an area that isn’t meant to be aspirational and yet in the middle, the College is this island of hope, offering the opportunities, skills and the armour to go on and do the things you want to do.”