Royal visit to South Walney Nature Reserve
His Royal Highness, The Earl of Wessex visited South Walney Nature Reserve yesterday (Thursday 13 June) to officially open the new visitor cabin. He was greeted by John Farmer, Chair of Trustees, as well as staff and volunteers who work at the nature reserve.
The Earl, who was accompanied by Claire Hensman, the Lord-Lieutenant for Cumbria, also met and talked to staff and children from South Walney Infant and Nursery School who enjoyed a range of wildlife-related activities, including exploring a mobile rockpool full of crabs, starfish and seaweed.
The Earl was then taken on a tour of the new visitor centre by Sarah Dalrymple, Warden at South Walney Nature Reserve and Pete Jones, Reserves Officer. They showed him the newly-installed displays explaining the history and wildlife found on Walney, including its important bird colonies; the SealCam which shows live streaming of the grey seal colony and the popular Cabin of Curiosities – a museum of interesting finds and history of the reserve. Before leaving, the Earl signed the visitors’ book and cut a ribbon to officially declare the new visitor cabin open.
John Farmer said: “It was a real honour for us that His Royal Highness visited our new visitor cabin at South Walney. Staff, volunteers and the local children all thoroughly enjoyed meeting him. It was a great opportunity to talk to The Earl about the wonderful wildlife here at South Walney, and the important conservation work that Cumbria Wildlife Trust does across the county, including at our 38 nature reserves which are open to the public. We’re very keen for people to come and visit places like South Walney to see the wildlife here, not least because experiencing wildlife and wild places is great for everyone’s sense of wellbeing.”
Nancy McKinnell, Head Teacher of South Walney Infant and Nursery School, said: “We’re delighted to be here. It’s very important to us that our children know more about their local community. Our school is in the middle of Walney Island, but many families, especially those without a car, haven’t explored the further edges of the island and not seen this beautiful area. So we bring our pupils here regularly as we believe it’s very important that they get to know these wonderful wild places.”