Updated: 3 days ago
AimHi Co-Founder Henry knows the world is full of amazing things. His mission? To help you discover them...
Have you always been interested in the environment? Tell us a bit about your background.
It's something that I've always been really interested in, since being very little. I used to help my grandma fold leaflets to send out for the world wildlife fund. From an education perspective, my family are teachers. My mum is a Head Teacher actually in a school in Esher, Surrey, and I work as the chair of a governing board in Tower Hamlets.
I've always wanted to try and instil the same sort of amazement and wonder around nature and the world that I had. There's a great Roald Dahl quote “And above all, watch with glittering eyes, the whole world around you, because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.”
I think it's a really powerful sentiment that being curious and being keen to learn and understand the world around you is a great proxy for being interested in education, and bettering yourself. I realized - just from discussions with friends - that even though they might've had what ostensibly is a very privileged education, there are swathes of real-world problems that just are not addressed in any way.
So what challenges are AimHi facing?
We’re working on so many different fronts around climate education, trying to work with huge amounts of organisations. I think we've spoken to a hundred or so different organisations, mostly in the climates sphere. They're all incredibly interesting people with great drives and goals. They're very aligned with what we're doing, so, we want to talk to all of them.
But at the same time, finding time to do that, as well as actually running AimHi (and setting it up), has been relatively challenging. Until you set something up, you don't really appreciate how long the background work takes.
Sounds like you’re busy! What would you say your favourite part of the job is?
One of the great bits is just being able to engage with and talk to people. Whether that's presenters or TV personalities like Chris Packham and George Monbiot, or whether it's people who are doing great work on climate campaigning, like JoJo Metha, or the founder of The Eden Project, Tim Smit. The range of diverse people that I speak to, and the views that they have, are great and different and interesting.
The other thing is strategising about direction. We are pushing towards something which I am very keen on, the idea that you can make world-class, live education available to everyone. It's not really been done in this way before, which makes the whole thing quite exciting.
So, you said you've met a lot of people. Who would you say is the most inspiring person you've met?
I met a chap the other day called Jyoti Banerjee who has done so many different things in his career. He was born in Delhi and came over to the UK. He has spent his whole career jumping between slightly different projects, but all with a similar aligned goal. He's ended up changing the way that corporate reporting works.
He is now working at a place called North Star Transition, which he set up, trying to solve some big global problems. He’s worked in tech, he's worked in all sorts of different areas, and he retains his principles and ethos. That is something that we're very keen to do at AimHi - making sure that everything we do is authentic, that we don't fold towards things that aren’t aligned with our ultimate goals.
Inspiring! So, when you get time off, what do you do?
I love the sea. My uncle lives in North Devon, so I would try and go down there as much as I can to go surfing and spend some time by the coast.
It’s quite hard to remember what I used to do when I didn't just sit in the house all weekend!
And one final question: if you could bring back any animal from extinction, which one would it be?
Probably the Dodo.
Why the Dodo?
If you think of an extinct animal, the first thing that jumps to mind for most people I would imagine is the Dodo. There are images and drawings of them and they were so prevalent in the really not too distant past. I'd be quite intrigued to see how useless they supposedly were as animals. They were probably quite important to Mauritius, so I think it’d be quite cool to bring them back.
The other animals that everyone would talk about would be some sort of dinosaur or Ichthyosaur. I love sharks, I think they're wonderful animals, and I think that this is a sort of precursor to the shark [the Ichthyosaur]. I've seen the skeletons in the Natural History Museum and it just looks like such a wonderfully terrifying animal. There are so many illustrations of it and it captures a lot of people's imaginations.
It would be brilliant to have it back to see the impacts it would have. Just think, evolution has caused the build-up, range and diversity of animals that we have now. So what would happen if you chucked a massive, carnivorous predator into the sea, and how much would that impact basically all life on earth?