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Me and my health: Hillsborough RSPB project officer Cathryn Cochrane on her lifestyle


Outdoor life: Cathryn Cochrane
Outdoor life: Cathryn Cochrane

The 29-year-old from Hillsborough is a project officer for RSPB NI, working on the Interreg-funded Co-operation Across Borders for Biodiversity (CABB) project and based at the RSPB's Portmore Lough reserve, Aghalee, near Moira. Cathryn loves spending time outdoors and when she's not chasing after her dog, Ruby, she can be found at Montiaghs Moss reserve near Portmore, monitoring dragonflies and damselflies, including a local rarity, the Irish damselfly.

Q: Do you take regular exercise and if so, what?

A: My job is based outside working on a nature reserve, so my family members laugh when I say 'I was out chasing butterflies'! They don't think it's real work. I also have a Jack Russell terrier, Ruby, who is always up for a walk and gets a long walk every evening, even if it's raining or getting dark. Ruby's favourite spots are Tollymore Forest Park, Murlough Beach, Divis and hillwalking in the Mournes. I prefer peace and quiet and experiencing the feeling of having the forest or nature reserve to myself. I also mountain bike once a week, either at Castle Ward or Castlewellan Forest Park.

Q: What's the worst illness you have had?

A: A few years ago I had glandular fever. I felt very drained and tired all the time. It took a while for me to get back to enjoying long walks and cycles.

Q: How healthy is your diet?

A: I would rate it as being average or below. I try to watch what I eat and I usually eat more than the recommended five fruit and veg a day and drink more than two litres of water a day. But I just love food and trying new things. I eat mostly home-cooked meals but do usually enjoy a takeaway once a week. I also have a sweet and savoury tooth - a recipe for disaster!

Q: Any bad habits?

A: Maybe I just don't give myself enough time to rest. I'm always on the go and find I can get run down a couple of times a year. A tell-tale sign that I'm run down is getting a mouth ulcer.

Q: Do you drink and/or smoke? If so, how much?

A: On average I would drink two or three glasses of red wine per week and maybe a couple of beers. I don't smoke and am proud to have never smoked a cigarette in my life.

Q: Do you take any health supplements?

A: Yes, every morning I take vitamin C, cod liver oil, glucosamine, a multivitamin and garlic. With having such an active lifestyle, I need all the help I can get. I have arthritis in my knees from playing hockey and carrying too much weight when I was younger, so I think cod liver oil and glucosamine help with this.

Q: How do you take time out?

A: I'm at my happiest when I'm outside. If I'm having a bad day the best way to clear my head is a good walk or a jaunt out on the bike. I'm lucky my boyfriend and I have the same interests, so we do these together. I don't watch TV and prefer to spend what free time I have reading terrible books. Don't ask me to recommend any.

Q: How well do you sleep?

Cathryn with her dog Ruby
Cathryn with her dog Ruby

A: Very well. Some say I could sleep on a clothes line! I get about seven hours each night but if I could get to bed earlier I could squeeze in eight. I always rely on the alarm to wake me up.

Q: Do you worry about getting old?

A: I don't think I worry about getting old but I do like to look after my skin by moisturising daily and drinking plenty of water. In sunny weather I will wear suncream, a hat and sunglasses (so I don't squint and to avoid wrinkles).

Q: What is your go-to product/habit that keeps you feeling healthy?

A: I think fresh air. Nothing beats being outside, facing all elements and being rewarded with the stunning views you can get across Northern Ireland and feeling much fitter and healthier for it.

RSPB NI Portmore Lough, near Aghalee in Co Antrim, is hosting a family-friendly Autumn Nature Detectives this Saturday (November 10) from 10.30am-12.30pm. To book, tel: 9064 5630 or email For more information visit

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