RSPB Scotland is asking for support from Tesco Campbeltown shoppers for its project to allow more people to experience the outstanding nature and history found on Islay. The project is in the running for £12,000 in funding thanks to Tesco's Bags of Help initiative.
RSPB Scotland's The Oa reserve on the island is home to a whole host of wildlife from golden eagles to marsh fritillary butterflies, and is one of the few places in Scotland where choughs, a rare member of the crow family are found. Thousands of people visit the American Monument on the reserve every year, built by the American Red Cross in 1920 to commemorate the sinking of two ships carrying soldiers from the USA during the First World War in 1918.
As well as the amazing wildlife and history at The Oa visitors are drawn to the reserve by its breathtaking views over to Northern Ireland from its cliff top walk, and the sites of significant historic interest found on the reserve. However, access to the cliff top walk and the American Monument are in need of improvement to make them more accessible and allow visitors to fully immerse themselves in the reserve, its nature and history.
Through the Bags of Help initiative the project has secured £8,000 in funding but could be given £12,000 and it's Tesco shoppers who get to decide. Between 31 October and 13 November shoppers at Tesco in Campbeltown will have the final say on how much money The Oa will receive by voting for their favourite of three projects in store: the project with the highest number of votes at the end of the two weeks will receive £12,000, the project in second place will receive £10,000 and the project in third will receive £8,000.
The funding from Bags of Help will be focused on improving the experience of visitors to the site, especially those with limited mobility, and ensuring that they have a memorable experience connecting them with the nature, history and culture of Islay. With the upcoming centenary of the sinking of the ships RSPB Scotland wants to ensure that all visitors to the site are able to see and learn about this historic monument.
David Wood, Site Manger at RSPB Scotland The Oa said: "We're delighted and very grateful to have received £8,000 in funding from Bags of Help for our project to improve the experience visitors have when they visit The Oa. It's a stunning place for wildlife and also of great historic importance. Access tracks will be improved, the car park sensitively expanded with seating areas provided so visitors can immerse themselves in the reserve even if they are not able to experience the cliff top walks. New information boards will be provided to ensure everyone visiting The Oa can learn about the historic sites found there.
"Gaining another £2,000 more funding through the vote at Campbeltown Tesco would mean we can do even more to make The Oa a better place to visit. We'd be able to improve trails away from the car park encouraging visitors to explore more of the reserve and increase their chances of seeing some of the wonderful wildlife.
"With the centenary of the ship sinkings coming up we're anticipating more visitors to the Monument and with £12,000 we'd be able to work with the local community group organising the commemorations to develop a lasting legacy to it - we'd like to provide benches along the cliff top trail as resting places and where people can enjoy moments of quiet contemplation while looking out to sea. Please do cast your vote for RSPB Scotland's The Oa at Campbeltown's Tesco and hopefully next year if you visit the reserve you'll be able to see for yourself the huge difference your support has made."
1. Tesco has teamed up with Groundwork on its Bags of Help initiative across Scotland. The scheme will see three community groups and projects awarded grants of £12,000, £10,000 and £8,000 - all raised from the 5p bag charge. greenspace scotland are working with Groundwork to support Scottish communities.
Bags of Help offers community groups and projects in each of Tesco's regions across the UK a share of revenue generated from the 5p charge levied on single-use carrier bags.
The public will now vote in the Camepbeltown store from 31st October - 13th November on who should receive the £12,000, £10,000 and £8,000 awards. In total, there is over £12.5 million up for grabs.