In the last week or so I have caught myself thinking about how this business will not only develop but how it will continue. Naturally my hope is for it to establish well, develop and grow and go on and on and on… At this point HumAnima CIC consists of myself and good ol’ Flossie but where will it be 5 years from now?

It has taken the best part of 2 years to get to where we are now and that has been pretty intense to say the least. It isn’t something you can do full-time unless you have massive resources and perhaps oodles of existing experience in business. So at this point it’s very much a case of trial and error, listening and learning from the many people who surround me who have got those oodles of experience, be it in marketing, finance and accounting, counselling or just being good at what they’re good at!

I never ever tire of hearing people talk about what they’re passionate about. Too many times I’ve witnessed a steady grey colour take over the flush pink face of a listener when talking about my own passions and interests so I can only emphasize how important I realise it is to be able to express that passion and to have it listened to with intrigue, interest and attentiveness. It is a priceless feeling to know that you are “infecting” someone with your own passion, motivation and keenness for a subject.

I have met a few people in my life who have equal enthusiasm for their areas as I do for mine. The person who has undoubtedly had the biggest influence on me has been my dear friend, Dr Horace Dobbs, Founder of International Dolphin Watch (IDW). He is the man who is largely to blame for my interest in researching the human-dolphin bond. Horace has spent his life tirelessly dedicating himself to researching the human-dolphin bond and ensuring that any encounters he or IDW encourage are in the dolphin’s best interests and on their terms. I have seen Horace present “playshops” (he doesn’t call them workshops) more than once and I never tire of seeing the same one again and again. Horace’s energy and enthusiasm makes the experience priceless every time. I have also NEVER met a man who can “pull off” a canary yellow shirt and look so good in it!! 

For a brief period I worked together with Horace on the Dolphin Dome Project when it was in it’s initial stages. This was a wonderful experience and was certainly a valuable precursor to team-working. He expanded the work he did in IDW to see how dolphin encounters might be recreated without the use of captive dolphins, thus highlighting the essential moral and ethical values that must be kept in mind when interacting with such wild animals. The project looked to use technologies such as Virtual Reality or VR to recreate the dolphin experience together with other approaches such as aromatherapy and light therapy. At present he is continuing to work on his I.D.E.A.L. project (Integrated Dolphin Education and Learning) which looks at incorporating the dolphin theme into education. Lets face it, kids love dolphins!

With Horace’s dedicated, fascinating and continuous work I have had something to aspire to. Admittedly though, I’m not quite sure if I’ll ever be up to writing books about my adventures (oh… Did I mention he writes books too?!). What really got me thinking though was the work Horace did a number of years ago with some people who had mental health conditions – bipolar, anorexia and depression. Horace took these people out to swim with a wild dolphin and the results… profound. Notice I did not use the term “statistically significant” which in this day and age is what gives you funding! The experience of swimming with dolphins has often been top of the list of “100 Things to do before you die” and whilst I have never done it I certainly plan on doing it before I kick the bucket! Now I realise that swimming with a wild dolphin isn’t exactly something you can merrily ask your Doctor to prescribe you, not to mention (again) the ethics of going ahead and doing so. However, I am glad to say that I have discovered that the magic and benefits of encountering such a special animal can be equally profound for other people interacting with other animals be they the four legged, feathered or flippered kind (and not just!). It is on this basis that I am going to be doing my darndest to bring these encounters to people who will benefit from them greatly and vice versa. Many of us instinctively know that interacting with animals and nature is good for us and now the growing research is beginning to speak for itself.

Just to finish, Horace’s work with people with mental health conditions was back then called Operation Sunflower. This work is now being continued in a slightly different way by the wonderful Jackie Connell and her equally super husband Terry, through Operation Sunshine. Operation Sunshine is a UK based international charity which aims to bring joy and healing into the lives of those with additional needs through dolphin inspired education and art, community projects and family retreats.