This year RSPB Scotland Loch Leven is celebrating 50 years of connecting children with nature, volunteering and creating homes for nature and the popular visitor attraction is asking people to share their memories of the last five decades.
Since RSPB Scotland bought in 1967, thousands of people have played a part in the development of the nature reserve and anyone with a special memory or story is invited to get in touch to share it.
Alice O'Rourke, Visitor Experience Officer at RSPB Scotland Loch Leven said: "As part of the 50th anniversary celebrations, we really want to hear stories and see photos from visitors, staff and volunteers that have made the reserve such a special place over the last five decades. We're really excited to uncover more about the social history of the reserve. It's also a great excuse to dig out gems from our own archive and celebrate our rich history of bringing people closer to nature."
Stories, of 50 words or fewer, and any accompanying photos must be submitted by the end of August in person, by post or via LochLeven50th@rspb.org.uk. Author and poet Anita John is RSPB Scotland Loch Leven's writer in residence this year and is helping to gather the stories. She will be writing regular blogs and sharing some of the stories as they come in.
The gathered stories and photographs will then form part of an exhibition during October leading up to a big celebration day on Sunday 29 October. The exhibition will also feature photos of Kinross High School's S4s, who were at the reserve last week completing 50 nature-themed activities in one day, as part of the anniversary celebrations.
In the lead-up to the anniversary there will be other celebrations too, including a limited edition golden pink-footed goose pin badge which is available now from the reserve's shop and a special exhibition throughout June of paintings and sketches by the Kinross and District Art Club who are also celebrating their 50th anniversary this year.
Over the last 50 years, RSPB Scotland Loch Leven has experienced many changes. In 1967, the area, known then as Vane Farm, was a working farm. Since then, the original farm steading has been developed to provide facilities for more than 55,000 visitors a year including a shop and an award-winning cafe with spectacular views over Loch Leven. Family activities throughout the year expands the reserve's original purpose as a centre for outdoor education and the current school's programme, which welcomes 2,500 schoolchildren a year, continues to make the most of both the woodland and wetland habitats.
The wetland has seen dramatic changes too. Areas of trees and scrub have been removed to help recreate wet grassland, while ditches and pools have been dug, and some filled in, to help with water management throughout the reserve. The wetland provides homes for internationally important numbers of breeding and wintering waders, ducks and geese and the reserve's three bird hides and screens help visitors get up close and enjoy the wildlife.
1. Instructions for submissions
You are welcome to submit a photo or a hand written story (50 words or less) about an experience you had while working, visiting or volunteering at RSPB Scotland Loch Leven (formerly Vane Farm reserve) which you can drop into the visitor centre or post to; RSPB Scotland Loch Leven, Kinross, KY13 9LX. Alternatively email LochLeven50th@rspb.org.uk along with your photo as an attachment. Please do not send in original copies of photos.
2. The RSPB is the UK's largest nature conservation charity, inspiring everyone to give nature a home. Together with our partners, we protect threatened birds and wildlife so our towns, coast and countryside will teem with life once again. We play a leading role in BirdLife International, a worldwide partnership of nature conservation organisations.