Trust patron Sir David Attenborough has officially opened the Volunteer Training Centre at Rutland Water Nature Reserve.
Sir David was warmly welcomed when he took a tour of the £1.1m centre and met some of the Trust’s 400-strong team of volunteers who contribute an extraordinary 35,000 hours at the nature reserve each year.
Thought to be the first of its kind in the UK, the centre will provide support and training for volunteers in conservation, countryside and heritage skills.
Trust director Simon Bentley said: “We hope that the new centre will serve as the hub of an active, supportive community and will deliver an exciting and innovative range of learning opportunities, from dry-stone walling and hedge-laying, to bird ringing and wildlife recording.”
Funded by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund with further contributions from Anglian Water, charitable trusts, the Melton Building Society and a public appeal, the building is designed to sit comfortably and sympathetically in its natural setting within the reserve.
Mr Bentley added: “The building incorporates important features to minimise its environmental impact including locally-sourced construction materials, maximum use of natural light and a high level of insulation and low energy fittings. It also features a living sedum roof and gabions filled with local stone, which will insulate the building and provide a rich variety of wildlife micro-habitats.”
Sir David paid tribute to the dedication of the volunteers who ‘don’t sit and stare’. He said, “This wonderful new building will enable skilled volunteers of all ages and backgrounds to protect and conserve the rich diversity of wildlife at Rutland Water and other important nature reserves into the future. It will enable them to work in a supportive environment and I am sure that they will derive immense pleasure and enjoyment from doing so.”
Volunteer Co-ordinator, Sarah Proud said, “Volunteers get involved in every aspect of work at the nature reserve, including habitat management, wildlife recording, welcoming visitors and assisting with events and activities. Volunteering enriches people’s lives and the new Centre will not only enable us to support our existing volunteers, but also offer new and exciting opportunities for even more people to get involved.”
For a short video of the official opening event see https://youtu.be/UqB-jJcEBzY
To learn more about the Volunteer Training Centre see www.rutlandwater.org.uk/wildlives
Photograph: Sir David cuts the ribbon to officially open the purpose-built Volunteer Training Centre at Rutland Water Nature Reserve (BH/LRWT)
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