TV star Bill flies in to hand over centre’s lottery award

Darlington and Stockton Times: AWARD: Bill Oddie hands over the award to staff and volunteers at RSPB Saltholme AWARD: Bill Oddie hands over the award to staff and volunteers at RSPB Saltholme

An RSPB visitor centre had an unexpected winter guest when a famous ornithologist dropped in.

Author, conservationist and founder 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 to run activities 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 brimming with an abundance of wildlife.

Its setting is even more dramatic because it is surrounded by heavy industry.

“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 unaware that they had won the National Lottery Award until Mr 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.”

Winners also receive a £2,000 cash prize to spend on their project.

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