Lotto lolly! Washington Old Hall’s £54,000 windfall

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LOTTERY money will help ensure future generations can enjoy one of Wearside’s historical treasures.

Washington Old Hall has been awarded £54,500 by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to help finance a major, three-year environmental development to protect and cultivate wildlife at the site.

The Friends of Washington Old Hall say the project, which is due to start this month, will focus on creating a sustainable habitat for creatures in outdoor areas like the Nuttery and the Mead.

Group chairman Les Haley, welcomed the grant and said: “We are delighted the Heritage Lottery Fund has recognised the importance of the environmental project.

“This development will be for the benefit of, not only the present generation of visitors, but also those of the future.”

Much of the development will focus on the nuttery, an area the Friends have restored over the years to include a wildflower nut-orchard, where beehives and bug hotels are just some of the conservation ideas being discussed.

The Friends say the public will be invited to take part in the project, called Nature On Your Doorstep, and with the help of experienced staff, ‘gain skills in a variety of nature and land-managementtechniques’.

Previous projects have shown the group to be more than capable of effectively cultivating wildlife.

In the Nuttery, a recent pilot scheme found there area was regularly visited by more than species of birds, including the once-commong thrush, which is now on the RSPB’s red list of birds most in need of conservation.

Also spotted was the Siskin, which would not ordinarily be found in urban areas, as well as one of the country’s smallest birds, the Goldcrest.

The Mead will also be subject to conservation thanks also to a further contribution of £1,500 from the Daughters of the American Revolution.

It is thought the area, opposite the 800-year-old hall, could have some archaeological importance, and that money will allow the area to be surveyed any further development takes place.

Sarah Murray, from the National Trust said: “We are really pleased the Friends have been awarded the HLF grant to carry out such a brilliant project. It will create many opportunities for individuals, school and community groups to become involved with nature conservation”.

Ivor Crowther, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund North East, added: “This is an engaging project which will actively involve people in our natural heritage. Volunteers and local people will have great fun while learning about Washington Old Hall’s surrounding natural habitats, the area’s role in our biodiversity and how we can make sure it continues to thrive for future generations.

“HLF is delighted to be able to help people connect with the natural world”.