We’re delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund is backing our project! Over the next three years, we’ll create new and inspiring ways to experience wildlife, and let visitors follow in the footsteps of our founder, Sir Peter Scott.
We’ve been developing Slimbridge 2020 behind the scenes for over a year: testing out ideas, working with new audiences, developing plans for new exhibits – and having a lot of fun in the process. We’ve had plenty of support from volunteers: some who have loved Slimbridge for years, and some who visited for the first time to tell us what they think of our ideas. We’ve told a few of our stories on this site, and now we’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone for getting us this far. There’s lots still to do as we start to put our plans into practice from the New Year, so please keep following and supporting the project.
We hope you’re excited about what we can achieve with the help of a National Lottery grant. Their backing has helped us secure major support from several other grant funders, including the Garfield Weston Foundation, Ernest Kleinwort Charitable Trust and Olive Herbert Charitable Trust. They’ll help bring our new ideas to life.
Peter Scott believed in giving everyone the opportunity to get close to nature – so they could be inspired to protect it. We can now take the next steps in planning our new visitor experiences. These include a walk-through aviary to give visitors a bird’s-eye view of wetland life, and a Living Wetland Theatre with free-flying pelicans, magpie geese and diving whistling ducks. We’re also planning a multi-level, fully wheelchair-accessible bird hide, with an open rooftop terrace – the perfect vantage point over one of the most spectacular bird habitats in Britain, the Severn Estuary.
For many of us, the most exciting part will be opening Sir Peter Scott’s home to the public. Lots of visitors don’t even realise that the house next to the centre, overlooking the lake, was where Scott himself lived and worked; it was his artist’s studio, and the headquarters of his conservation projects. Walking from room to room, you half-expect to meet Sir Peter himself, putting the finishing touches to a painting. His original sketches of the WWF panda logo hang on the wall; his trophies for gliding and sailing sit alongside photographs of his famous father, known to the world as ‘Scott of the Antarctic’. We think visitors will find it a moving insight – and hopefully an inspiring one.
These experiences will encourage new visitors to explore birdwatching and wildlife for the first time – and give our loyal friends a new way to enjoy the things they love. Most of all, we hope they’ll be a tribute to Slimbridge’s founder, the man Sir David Attenborough calls “the patron saint of conservation”.