Heather Forster - BSc (Hons) Environmental Science graduate

“Working with Crowdfunder has been so exciting... You work with those at grass roots who really do effect change in ordinary people’s lives."

Following a two year tour in Sri Lanka where her husband worked for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, the couple returned to establish the Environmental Department for The Body Shop International PLC - after meeting Anita and Gordon Roddick whilst visiting Southern India. Heather was part of the ten per cent of environmental science graduates that were successful in securing a career in the sector, as these were very early days in the environmental movement and sustainability was an unknown activity.

Heather worked directly with Anita Roddick launching the environmental campaigns with Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and Amnesty International, to name a few. She trained the international franchise network to implement the environmental policy globally and was involved in numerous projects including the building of the Easterhouse Playground and established the charity now known as Children on the Edge, which renovated children’s orphanages in Romania. The Body Shop International was a force for global social change, writing the text book on how corporates can effect change on a huge variety of subjects.

Heather moved to Cornwall with her family and opened two franchise stores in Truro and Penzance, which she ran for the next 15 years. When Anita Roddick sadly died, Heather sold the franchise in order to explore new opportunities. She spent a year restructuring the retail operation at the Eden Project and various other international strategic projects. It wasn’t until she came across Cornish based Crowdfunder.co.uk when her son ran a campaign to raise money for his new business, that Heather found a company with the same sense of integrity and desire as The Body Shop to make the world a better place.  

“Working with Crowdfunder has been so exciting. It has been hard since those extraordinary days of The Body Shop to find a company I truly felt wanted to achieve the same things. Delivering workshops to people all over the country has been a real privilege. You work with those at grass roots who really do effect change in ordinary people’s lives.

Being Crowdfunder in Residence at the University has been a fabulous experience. I’ve worked with every faculty - world class professors one minute and first year students the next. Due to the University’s community engagement programme we’ve worked with an extraordinarily wide range of community groups from local sports clubs and societies to cultural enterprises putting on events. Crowdfunding really is disrupting the financial marketplace and enabling ordinary people to help ordinary people. The 'participative economy' in action.”

Working alongside Professor Adrian Sergeant, the Director of the Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy, Heather is exploring the feasibility of a PhD exploring the psychology of crowdfunding and why it has become such a successful fundraising phenomenon. It is expected that the appropriate candidate will fundraise on the Crowdfunder.co.uk platform to raise money for the research. The platform has already proved to be extremely successful for students to raise money for some very interesting research programmes.

Case study: MegaReach

An example of a project recently uploaded is MegaReach. Sri Lankan Dr Poorna Gunasekera lectures in the School of Biomedical and Healthcare Sciences and will take nine students to Colombo University to study parasitology. The students will also travel to Jafna to attempt to provide some cultural reconciliation after the civil war which ended in 2014. 

Dr Gunasekera wants to help find a way for the Tamil and Sinhalese youth to appreciate each others cultures and build a stable platform for continued growth and stability in the country. Every participant in the journey will provide a wheelchair with specially designed adaptable inserts for disabled children in a home in Kandy. The group are also raising funds to build a roof for a local school. 

And to top it all they want to support the local community in Plymouth and are working with and being led by the Laira community to help them raise funds for the things they want to achieve.