This week we are going mad for the new Minsmere visitor Centre.... I caught up with Louise Gregory, Volunteer Development Officer at Minsmere to find out more......
Hi Louise, I hear that a lot has been happening at Minsmere...
We’ve been very busy over the last 6-months, having just completed a multimillion-pound redevelopment of the visitor centre with a much-needed extension of our reception and café. We have created of a new Discovery Centre, Wild Zone and Wild Wood Adventure for everyone to enjoy no matter what your age. I took my mum and dad around the Wild Zone last weekend; they had a great time playing with all the activities in the Wild Zone, we even heard a real nightingale singing behind the Discovery Centre. We went to the willow river watch hide in the Wild Wood Adventure and found a great tit nest next to the hide. Since opening the new facilities, we have been very busy. We need more volunteers; to help talk visitors, identify wildlife, and give advice on binoculars, clear tables, answer the telephone...the tasks on a busy reserve are endless.
You are a big reserve – how many volunteers have you currently got?
We have over one hundred volunteers at Minsmere who all do a fantastic job, but we need more! Our youngest volunteer is 14 years old and our oldest is 91 years old: all help to deliver wildlife conservation in very different ways, from café assistants to guided walk leaders, bittern surveyors to Wildlife Explorer leaders.
How will the new roles help you?
It’s the reserve’s 65th birthday this year, and with all the new facilities it’s a great time to come and explore. We are always trying to deliver the best experience to our visitors, it might be talking to a visitor out on the trails, pointing out a family of tree creepers or taking a scrummy plate of food to a visitor seated in the cafe, it all forms part of a grand day out.
Things have been manic for you recently then!
We have all been crazily busy and worked so hard over the last few months. The new buildings look fantastic with old and new blending seamlessly. The new Wild Zone and Wild Wood Adventure are such fun. My favourite part is the bit you don’t even see, the visitor centre roof has cool solar panels that heat the tap water and produce electricity, and underground the are huge water tanks that collect all the rain and recycles it for use in the toilets.
We couldn’t have done any of it without the help and support of our Minsmere volunteer team, who turned their hand to any job, our regular visitors were amazed at how quickly we moved back into the new buildings.
Thanks Louise, good luck with the 65th birthday events this year – you certainly have the venue to celebrate it now!