Fair Isle Bird Observatory appeal launched
by Promote Shetland -
A crowdfunding appeal has launched to raise funds to rebuild the world-famous bird observatory in Fair Isle.
When fire engulfed the Fair Isle Bird Observatory on a quiet Sunday in March 2019, burning it to the ground, it was a heartbreaking moment for the island's residents and the many tourists and ornithologists who had visited over the years.
The observatory attracted people from all over the world and operated as a world-leading centre of scientific research into seabirds and bird migration.
Thankfully, nobody was hurt in the blaze and years of important ornithological data was saved, having been digitised before the fire. The wardens of the observatory also continue to live on the isle and carry out studies into the island's bird life.
Now, plans are being made to resurrect the observatory, with an international crowdfunding appeal being launched to raise £650,000. The funds will go towards the £7.4 million cost of the new building, which will be the fifth observatory on the island. The observatory first opened in 1948 and the building that burned down last year was completed in 2010.
The building will have improved accommodation – more guest rooms and better fittings – for students, volunteers and young people to progress educationally and to develop their careers.
Excitingly, author and writer of the Shetland series, Ann Cleeves, who lived on Fair Isle 40 years ago, is to be at the heart of the campaign as the newly-announced patron of the observatory.
“Fair Isle is a thriving community that keeps alive its traditions while being open-minded and open-hearted to visiting strangers," she said.
“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 new observatory is being designed by Glasgow-based ICA architects and received planning permission from Shetland Islands Council earlier this year.
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