17/08/2020
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Fair Isle launches fundraiser for rebuild project

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Fair Isle Bird Observatory has launched a fundraiser to contribute to the cost of a rebuilding project, following a devastating fire in March last year.

A crowdfunding appeal has started, with an aim of raising at least £650,000 towards construction work. The funds will go towards the £7.4m cost of the new building, which will be the fifth observatory on the island.


Fair Isle Bird Observatory was destroyed by a fire in March (Julian Paren / Flickr.com).

The building will have improved accommodation – more guest rooms and better fittings – for students, volunteers and young people to progress both educationally and career-wise.

Roy Dennis, president of the Fair Isle Bird Observatory Trust, said: "I was appalled when I saw the flames destroying our famous bird observatory in March 2019, but I knew then, immediately, that we would build a new one in exactly the same place – like a phoenix rising from the ashes.

"Our trustees have worked hard, and even with the difficulties of the pandemic, new designs and plans are ready, but we have a very worrying shortfall in funding."

Author Ann Cleeves, who first visited the island some 40 years ago and whose crime novels are set in the islands, is behind the campaign too. She said: "Fair Isle is a thriving community that keeps alive its traditions while being open-minded and open-hearted to visiting strangers.

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"The loss of the building to fire was a tragedy, given its central role in supporting employment and providing a place where islanders and visitors can meet to share stories and expertise. We now hope to replace it with a building that is even more relevant to the island's future and hope that you can help us in any way you can."

The building will have improved accommodation – more guest rooms and better fittings – for students, volunteers and young people to progress both educationally and career-wise.

The observatory is vitally important to the economic and social wellbeing of Fair Isle, so contributions will be an investment in the future viability of the community as well as the provision of significantly enhanced research facilities for world-class ornithological and additional marine biological work.

Expanding the scope of eco-tourism in the north of Scotland, the new observatory will draw more deeply on and help to develop the building and maintenance skills of the islanders, supporting the creation of a Fair Isle-wide Tourist Action Plan.

You can make a donation to the fundraising appeal here.