Wildlife centre granted £1.9m to improve disabled access

The funding will help the proposed centre in the Cairngorms National Park improve accessibility.

Wildlife centre granted £1.9m to improve disabled access iStock
Funding: Wildlife centre given £1.9m to improve disabled access by National Lottery.

Plans for an accessible Wildlife Discovery Centre in the Highlands have moved forward following a grant of £1.9m from the National Lottery. 

The proposed centre in the Cairngorms National Park is one of a number of projects set to share more than £14m in funding to improve access to heritage sites for disabled people. 

The cash will also be used to help more people from a diverse range of backgrounds connect with the UK’s monuments, the National Lottery Heritage Fund said.

The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland will use its £1.9m grant to create an accessible visitors centre.

Some of the money will also be spent on a programme aimed at encouraging under-represented groups, including young people, to enjoy the natural heritage of the area.

David Field, Royal Zoological Society of Scotland CEO, said, “It is tremendously exciting to be able to move forward with our plans for Scotland’s Wildlife Discovery Centre at Highland Wildlife Park.

“Here in the spectacular Cairngorms National Park, the new innovative spaces in our discovery hubs will give visitors the opportunity to find out about Scotland’s wildlife heritage and how they can help with conservation initiatives including our charity’s projects to save native species like the wildcat, pond mud snail and pine hoverfly.

“This is an initiative that we hope the whole community will get behind.”

Among the sites to receive a funding boost was the Anglesey Column Trust to help it adapt The Marquess of Anglesey’s Column and Cottage in Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, Wales.

The site, which commemorates the first marquess’ bravery in the Napoleonic Wars, received £872,800 which will be spent on adding an accessible walkway and a tree canopy viewing platform.

In London, the Natural History Museum received £3.2m to develop new outdoor galleries, improve access to the gardens and ensure there are step-free routes across the site.

The Nene Park Trust in Peterborough has been awarded £1.9m for its work helping the multicultural communities of the city connect with nature and the outdoors.

It has plans for a range of activities including guided walks, companion walks for the isolated and tree planting with members of the Sikh community.

In the Midlands, Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Archives received £3.96m to develop a new history centre and to work with local communities to help them engage with the area’s past.

Learning resources will be tailored to young people, people with early on-set dementia and also people from eastern European and black and other minority ethnic communities, the heritage fund said.

Durham County Council, Sheffield City Council and Newport Minster on the Isle of Wight also all received funding for accessibility projects.

Ros Kerslake, chief executive of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Heritage has a crucial role to play in contributing to a more equal society, and throughout the pandemic we’ve seen the value that it can bring to people, communities and the economy.

“We believe everyone should be able to benefit from our funding, regardless of age, disability, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, faith, class or income.

“That’s why every project we fund must ensure that the broadest range of people as possible can be involved and we remain committed to this as we build back from the coronavirus crisis”.