LIFE Raft Project

News from John Kelly, LIFE Raft Senior Programme Manager

Friday 17/05/24

A blog from John Kelly, LIFE Raft Senior Programme Manager

Hello all,

It is a part of every long-term project that staff come and go, and today it is my turn. At the end of June, I will be stepping down from my role as the LIFE Raft Programme Manager.

It has been a great privilege to play my role in our journey to make Rathlin a better place for wildlife and the community. I’ve worked on projects all over the world, but Rathlin and the LIFE Raft project really will always be a career highlight that I will treasure.

I will be forever grateful to the Rathlin community, and for everyone that helped get this project to where it is today. Today, I am excited to see how the LIFE Raft team, the Rathlin community, and the partners take LIFE Raft towards a successful outcome.

Collectively, we have come an incredibly long way since I joined Rathlin at the start of 2019. After almost two decades of effort, we were able to bring together a partnership to lead this project. We were also able to secure the crucial funding from EU LIFE, National Lottery Heritage Fund, DAERA and the Garfield Weston Foundation. Most importantly, we designed a project with the community and for the community.

I am immensely proud of the team that I find myself leaving. They are such a great bunch of people. All passionate and dedicated to Rathlin and the success of the LIFE Raft project. A manager could not ask for more.

To support this incredible team and the success of the LIFE Raft project, my role will be filled very soon, and the project will progress. The RSPB will shortly advertise for a replacement manager, and I am confident they will find someone who will build on the successes we achieved so far. You can expect to see this advertised on both this website and the RSPB website over the coming days.

June will draw to a close 11 years working with the RSPB and restoring nature both at home and overseas. I want to thank the RSPB for the opportunities I have had and everyone that has supported me and my work during this time. I will always be proud of our shared successes, how we were all happy to learn and build on any mistakes, and I look forward to continuing to play my part in helping to reverse the decline of nature throughout my career.

With respect,



A small snapshot of some of the many wonderful people I’ve worked with, and brilliant days I’ve had, working on LIFE Raft.

Trying out the traverse lines on the cliffs


Visiting the East Lighthouse with the RDCA


Meeting with the Future Island-Island project from Ulster University


Viewing the cliffs with some of our climbers, consultants, and fieldworkers


Not a bad day in the office with a boat trip around the island


And finally, in front of the Kelp House with my dog, Atlas – a big fan of Rathlin Island.