An unexpected visitor dropped into RSPB centre

Darlington and Stockton Times: Bill Oddie OBE presenting award to Caroline Found at RSPB Saltholme with overjoyed staff and volunteers Bill Oddie OBE presenting award to Caroline Found at RSPB Saltholme with overjoyed staff and volunteers

A RSPB visitor centre had an unexpected winter guest today (Wednesday, December 5) when a famous ornithologist called in.

Author, conservationist and member of the Goodies, Bill Oddie surprised staff, volunteers and visitors at Saltholme by presenting them with a National Lottery Awards trophy.

The centre has been awarded £268,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to run activities for people to enjoy and appreciate nature at the RSPB site.

The project, Lifelong Learning at Saltholme, received almost 10,000 votes from the public to be crowned the nation’s Best Education project.

Mr Oddie said: “Saltholme is an area of outstanding natural beauty, brimming with an abundance of wildlife. Its setting is even more dramatic because it is surrounded by heavy industry.

"National Lottery funding has meant that hundreds of school children have experienced wildlife for the first time at Saltholme. It is fantastic that its educational work has been recognised by the public.”

Staff, volunteers and visitors were completely unaware that they had won the National Lottery Award until Bill Oddie surprised them.

Caroline Found from the RSPB said: “We were gobsmacked when Bill Oddie turned up with our trophy. We are incredibly proud of our success educating people of all ages about wildlife and nature. We are grateful to everyone who voted for us and National Lottery players for the funding to make our work possible.”

Lifelong Learning at Saltholme and the six other winners will be celebrated at a special star-studded BBC One Show at 8.40pm on Saturday, December 8. Winners also receive a £2,000 cash prize to spend on their project.

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