Ewa Prokop - Darwin and Downe
Ewa’s practical interest in nature conservation was ignited during her 'year off', in 1987, when she volunteered with British Trust for Conservation Volunteers (now The Conservation Volunteers). She completed a biology degree at Royal Holloway & Bedford New College (University of London) in 1991. Since then, Ewa has worked in rural and urban-fringe localities in various environmental roles, working for the Northmoor Trust (Oxfordshire), the London Borough of Bromley (incorporating 'Darwin's Landscape Laboratory'), Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership, South Somerset District Council, Kent Wildlife Trust, Groundwork South and North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership.
Ewa worked for 18 years around Downe, the village where Darwin chose to call ‘home’ for 40 years. Together with many people, Ewa was involved in the bids that sought to inscribe ‘Darwin’s Landscape Laboratory’ as a World Heritage Site back in 2007 and 2010. Unfortunately the bids were unsuccessful. On moving to Shropshire, Ewa’s curiosity was sparked about the environment in which Darwin spent his youth. Her first book, published in early 2014, sought to highlight how the Midlands landscape contrasts with that at Downe.. The book also includes extracts from Darwin’s and other authors’ works to give the reader a sense of Darwin as a person too.
Wanting to share her deep interest in Charles Darwin, and the amazing range of wildlife that can be found in south-east England, with children, Ewa created some stories later that year. These are set in real places around Downe, which Ewa helped manage in her role as Countryside Officer. The stories give the reader a chance to eavesdrop on discussions between a wild, native animal and Charles Darwin, where he explains some of the scientific investigations he is doing. The stories are based on many true facts gleaned from writings of Charles Darwin and his family; these can be read in 'The Truth Behind the Fiction' on her www.madaboutcharlesdarwin.co.uk website. Ewa enjoyed working with the illustrator, Diana Catchpole, who brought the characters to life.
Ewa is keen to encourage people to visit the countryside around Downe, including Darwin’s home, Down House (owned by English Heritage), as well as the countryside around Shrewsbury, Darwin’s birthplace.