A Shetland wildlife charity is celebrating after the final piece in a complex funding jigsaw fell into place late this week to allow the organisation to go ahead with a £500,000 upgrade to its animal care facilities.
A grant of almost £100,000 of European money, awarded by the LEADER fund’s Local Action Group on Wednesday, will help to secure the long-term future of Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary.
The funding will supplement an earlier award of £310,000 from the Sullom Voe Association, which represents the Shetland oil industry and the local authority.
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A delighted Jan Bevington, who founded the sanctuary more than 30 years ago, said yesterday that the funding would allow her to leave “a legacy for Shetland, its future generations and its wonderful wildlife”.
She added: “We are absolutely delighted to have won the support of the local folk that sit on the LEADER board after a very long process of submitting and then refining our bid.
“Their support means we can finally proceed with a major building programme that will allow us to realise our long held vision of first class facilities to care for Shetland’s marine mammals.
“We could not have got this far without the backing of Shetland Islands Council, the local oil industry, and especially all the wonderfully kind and generous people who are supporting our work with regular and one off donations.
“We would especially like to thank the members of the Shetland Oil Terminal Environmental Advisory Group, SOTEAG, with whom this whole plan began five years ago.”
The sanctuary began life in 1987 when Jan came across an abandoned seal on a beach at Hillswick.
They went on to play a major part in the response to the Braer oil spill in 1993, with the sanctuary taking in 37 seals and 11 otters and receiving the help of nearly 400 volunteers.
Jan and her husband Pete have been kept busy ever since.
Video courtesy of Shetland Islands Council.