Miranda Krestovnikoff has come full circle. As she and her husband choose a senior school for their daughter they are trying to find somewhere where she will be inspired by outstanding teachers. How fitting, therefore, that Miranda should be revisiting her former school to pay tribute to just such a teacher. Jo Trott was a much loved member of The Abbey staff, whose passion for biology and botany launched the careers of an enormous number of scientists, including Miranda herself. Jo passed away on 24th December 2015 after a long and courageous fight against illness. We were honoured to welcome Jo’s husband, children and parents to hear this first memorial lecture.
A packed Richards Hall warmed to Miranda’s theme of “Endeavour” as she talked about her career to date and the people, including Jo, that have helped and encouraged her along the way. We learned that great career strides can be made via chance encounters in the car park at BBC Bristol, where Miranda worked as a runner in the early days of her career – truly showing the importance of networking in every circumstance!
Miranda is well-known for her work as a television presenter, and in particular for her underwater work on shipwrecks and with wildlife around the coast of Britain and further afield. Having learned to dive at university, Miranda found that this skill gave her an advantage and has led to opportunities that simply wouldn’t have existed had she not had this extra string to her bow. There have been dangerous incidents too, in particular when her support team inadvertently gave her an empty oxygen tank during decompression and forced her to risk suffering decompression sickness: “It taught me that only you are in control of your destiny and safety. I’ve been really hot on that ever since.”
During her career Miranda has encountered innumerable fascinating animals, from potter wasps and spineless hedgehogs to puffins, sharks and the smuggled iguanas that she helped to repatriate to the Bahamas. Her best experiences have been when wild animals approach her and clearly want to interact, as has been the case with friendly seals and dolphins on various shoots.
From a career high point of winning a BAFTA as part of the Coast team, through the joys and challenges of motherhood and family life, Miranda gave us fantastic insight into what she gratefully terms: “The absolute best job that anyone could have.” She credited all those people who have supported and influenced her life and career, also advising the listening students to take charge of their lives: “I firmly believe that it’s not about luck – or rather it’s about making your own luck, about making sure you’re in the right place at the right time, setting your sails to catch the wind that will take you the way you want to go.”
The audience was full of questions, wanting to know which trip Miranda would most like to relive (New Zealand, with her family) and which endangered animal she would choose if she could pick one to save (she chose to save habitats instead of individual species.) After the talk she spent time meeting members of the audience who were also able to handle the mammoth tooth and potter wasp nest that she had brought with her.
The evening was a wonderfully fitting tribute to a remarkable teacher and a superb demonstration of the way that following your passions and making the most of opportunities can lead to a truly fulfilling life.