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Sir David was warmly welcomed when he took a tour of the new £1.1m centre and met some of the Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife 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. Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife 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.”
The Melton donated £15,000 towards the construction of the Centre to enable the Trust to complete construction of the first floor space to include a viewing gallery with stunning views over the wetland lagoon. The Melton is working in partnership with the Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust to generate funds and increase awareness of the Trust’s purpose and vision through a number of initiatives. For example, children aged 0 to 16 years who open a new Wild Ones Young Savers Account at any branch of the Melton will receive a free Wild Ones Packs containing a pocket wildlife guide, wildflower seeds and more to encourage young people to enjoy wildlife and get into the habit of saving. Other activities include a special one year Family Membership of the Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust for just £10 – a saving of £30. For every Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust member who completes on a mortgage with the Melton, the Society will donate £150 to the Trust.
To learn more about the Volunteer Training Centre see www.rutlandwater.org.uk/wildlives
Photograph: Martin Reason, Chief Executive, the Melton meets Sir David Attenborough at the official opening of the Volunteer Training Centre at Rutland Water Nature Reserve
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