Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary seeks public ‘seal’ of approval to secure its future
Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary began in May 1987 when Jan Bevington picked up an abandoned common seal on the beach outside her home in Hillswick.
This week it launched an appeal which it is hoped with secure the sanctuary’s future for the next 30 years.
The Sullom Voe-based oil industry has pledged up to £300,000 to refurbish and renovate the sanctuary. But that is reliant on the organisation showing that it can sustain itself financially.
Over the last 30 years it has survived on a shoestring budget, as well as the love and hard work, of Mrs Bevington, husband Pete and a hardcore of supporters.
Now Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary is looking for 500 people willing to pledge £5 a month to cover day to day running costs. If successful the oil money will be confirmed and provide seals and otters with a safe haven for years to come.
In a joint statement the Bevingtons said: “The facilities at Hillswick are desperate to be refurbished.
“Over the last three years we have managed to persuade the oil industry and the council that we are worth investing in as part of Shetland’s oil spill response plan for wildlife.
“However before they invest such a large sum of money, they need reassurance that the sanctuary can sustain itself into the future.
“This is an opportunity we cannot afford to miss, so we’re reaching out to our thousands of friends and followers in Shetland and around the world for help. If ever we needed your support, it’s now.”
Malcolm Bell is chairman of the Sullom Voe Association that represents the council and the oil and gas industry in Shetland. He said: “Wildlife is one of Shetland’s main attractions for local people and visitors alike, and it’s important that we do all we can to protect it.
“Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary plays a critical role in Shetland’s oil spill response plan and Jan and Pete have presented a powerful case for this major investment in the sanctuary’s facilities.
“However there is no point investing this money if the sanctuary can’t sustain itself financially into the future, so we have asked for an assurance that this is achievable.”
Anyone wanting to support the campaign can visit Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary’s new website at https://hillswickwildlifesanctuary.org or connect on Facebook.
The Sullom Voe Association is a private limited company funds Soteag’s work monitoring the natural environment around Sullom Voe and maintaining the oil spoll response plan. Its members represent the three main oil companies operating in Shetland – BP, TAQA and Total – along with Shetland Islands Council, each of whom contributes 25 per cent towards its operating budget.