Published: June 26, 2012
£500,000 lotto funding boost for Secret World's education centre plans

A brand new Wildlife and Heritage Education Centre is to be built following a massive £502,600 grant from The Heritage Lottery Fund, it has been announced this week.

The new facility is to be built at Secret World Wildlife Rescue Centre in East Huntspill, near Burnham-On-Sea, where author Sir Terry Pratchett recently launched a £4.4 million Call of the Wild Appeal. This aimed to build the education centre together with a wildlife teaching hospital.

Now, work on the Education Centre part of the project, which involves the renovation and extension of a 17th Century barn, will start in October and is expected to be completed by May 2013.

A delighted Secret World Founder Pauline Kidner, pictured above, told this week: "The Heritage Lottery grant provides 79% of the cash needed to build, equip and run the centre as well as funding a South West schools outreach programme over the next three and a half years."

"Set in the heart of Secret World, the centre will give children their only guaranteed chance of seeing and learning about a wide range of British wildlife at a time when most youngsters spend only nine per cent of their time outdoors."

"We have been inundated with wildlife orphans over the past couple of months of the breeding season but while what we do with the rescue side of the charity is vitally important, it is the education of our children that will have the greatest Impact on wildlife in the future."

Secret World's Capital Appeal Director Tina Antonio added that at a time when one in four of the UK’s wildlife species were depleted or endangered, children were now more disconnected with the countryside than ever before.

"We are thrilled that we have attracted a funder who is deeply aware of the issues and without their support we could never have started work on the centre
so soon," she said.

Richard Bellamy, acting Head of Heritage Lottery Fund South West, added in a press statement: "We at HLF are delighted to announce this award of £502,600 to the Wild Hearts Project, which will give visitors of all ages fantastic new opportunities to explore their local wildlife."

"The Education centre and the planned outreach activities will help young people learn about the importance and issues around our precious natural heritage, whilst older members of the community will have a chance to get involved through volunteering at the centre."

"We are all custodians of our natural heritage, and through projects like this we are able to help ensure that it can be preserved for future generations to enjoy."

The Heritage Lottery Fund awarded Secret World £12,867 at the end of last year to plan their proposed centre’s education programme in readiness for submitting a full funding bid.

The money was used to consult with all the schools in the South West, train volunteers and create an education plan.

Consultation revealed that schools fervently believed in the value of educating children about wildlife and were keen to get involved with the project and make use of the facilities.

The new Wildlife Education Centre will include meeting rooms and a lecture theatre where schools will be encouraged to take part in inspiring educational programmes giving youngsters a unique opportunity to learn about British wildlife and how to help save it.


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