Name: Mike Appleton

Job title: Marketing and Communications Officer

Organisation: Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust

How did you get your current job / how long have you worked in your current role?

I’ve been at YDMT since January 2019 after working in rugby league since 2007. I always wanted to work in two places; my rugby league club at St Helens, and in the Yorkshire Dales. After enjoying a really good time at St.Helens R.F.C. – standing on the pitch at Wembley lifting the Challenge Cup was a real highlight – I got the opportunity to work with YDMT, in Clapham, in the Dales. It’s been a great experience so far, but I certainly didn’t sign up to work from my bedroom in St Helens for the last year! It has allowed me to develop from being just a communicator who works with the media etc to someone who is able to project manage environmental schemes and plant many many trees.

Is there anything about you that you think people would be surprised to know?

This is going to sound like a ‘look at me, aren’t I great’ moment.

I have written 10 books, taking in subjects like Ice Hockey and Rugby League, right through to books on the Dales, Derbyshire and Cheshire. I also love a good thrutch in a passage – I’m a caver!

What is the greatest challenge your organisation has faced during this crisis?

As an organisation, we have the most amazing supporters and partners who have been with us long term. As a result, we don’t have to rely on face-to-face events in order to fundraise and support our work. But, when the first lockdown happened, we were planning our woodland open days and lots of walks.

Being unable to meet our supporters at those annual intimate events has been really difficult. We had to alter how we did that important interaction and take everything online. It has been a revelation in terms of us getting to a new audience, but it isn’t the same is it? We cannot wait to be able to meet our supporters once again… very soon!

What do you think direct marketing / mail / print will look like a year from now?

Thanks to Dragonfly, our direct mail has undergone nothing short of a revolution in the last 18 or so months. We have become more direct, targeted and innovative with how we position our message. For YDMT, this will continue over the next 12 months, and we are already looking at different segmentations, letter styles and newsletters.

I can only see this continuing over the next 12 months. Personalisation will be key, as consumers are more aware of ‘spam’ like mailings from the ‘e-world’ and unnecessary paper waste. As a predominately environmentally based charity, we are acutely aware of waste and are working to minimise our environmental impact.

What has been your favourite act of kindness you have seen during this crisis?

I think how everyone rallied around in the first lockdown gave me real hope that not only we could tackle the covid crisis, but other crises in the future.

We helped set up groups in the Dales to deliver food and medicine and that act of looking after our neighbours and community was really heart-warming.

I think we’ve lost this a wee bit as the second and third (whatever lockdown we are on now) stay at homes have progressed but I do believe those relationships, people looking after each other, will remain a real legacy for the future.

If you would like to know more about the amazing work YDMT carry out, be sure to visit their website and see how you can support them.