The home of Sir Peter Scott – the so-called “patron saint of conservation” who was the godson of Peter Pan’s Scottish creator JM Barrie – is to open its doors to the public for the first time after being awarded a £4.4 million grant.
Sir Peter, son of tragic Antarctic explorer Captain Robert Falcon Scott who instructed his wife in a last letter to “make the boy interested in natural history”, and his home at Slimbridge, Gloucestershire, were central to the modern conservation movement.
The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT), one of the wildlife organisations Sir Peter helped to found, has been given funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) towards a £6 million programme to open the house to the public and develop the nature reserve site.
Sir Peter, who also helped found the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), built his family home at Slimbridge in the 1950s.
The conservationist, who died in 1989, picked the spot close to the Severn estuary having spotted a lesser white fronted goose nearby – the first time the bird had been recorded in the UK.
His home, with a huge window looking over a lake he created, became the site of the BBC’s first ever natural history programme, which he presented live in May 1953. Sir David Attenborough, one of the broadcasters inspired by Sir Peter, said: “Peter is and always will be the patron saint of conservation.
“Long before words like ‘biodiversity’ were coined, Peter looked out from that huge window in his house at Slimbridge and realised our lives are so linked with our natural world that we have to learn to love it and look after it.
“I think it’s wonderful that absolutely anyone will be able to sit in that same window in future years and feel just as inspired.”
The HLF grant will help WWT open the house to the public, much of which is as it was when Sir Peter lived there, and display items such as his original binoculars and his sketches of the panda logo he designed for WWF and the swan logo for WWT.
The £6m programme - of which WWT will still have to raise £1.6m – will also be used to create more hides overlooking the reserve, build a theatre for education and turn the original cottage on the site into a multimedia centre.
Heritage Lottery Fund trustee Jim Dixon said: “I can’t think of a more fitting way to use National Lottery players’ money than by giving Slimbridge a renewed role to celebrate the work [Sir Peter] pioneered and loved.”