Scottish Seabird Centre launches £200k fundraiser to stay afloat during Covid-19

It is the first fundraiser the centre has had.

The East Lothian-based Scottish Seabird Centre has launched a £200,000 fundraising campaign in order to survive the impact of coronavirus lockdown.

In the centre’s first ever appeal for public donations, CEO Susan Davies said it was facing a ‘financial cliff edge’ and may have to close its doors after 20 years of operation if the target cannot be reached.

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The Justgiving campaign has been backed by naturalists Chris Packham and Simon King.

The centre has set a fundraising target of £200,000.

The Seabird Centre works on conservation projects such as its hugely successful SOS Puffin project, which has helped the critically endangered Atlantic Puffin population recover in numbers.It also runs an education programme, engaging with more than 4,000 school children each year, and is the most visited attraction in East Lothian with over 260,000 visitors a year.

Although a national charity, the centre gains most of its funding from its not-for-profit Discovery Experience, which was closed just before the official lockdown on March 19.

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CEO Susan Davies said: “We appreciate that these COVID-19 times are unprecedented and extremely unsettling for everyone, but we are facing a financial cliff edge.

Gannets at Bass Rock.

“We need public support to help us come through our current closure, the period that should have been the liveliest and busiest part of our year.

“If we cannot secure the funds to see us through the lockdown period, we will have to take the heartbreaking decision to close, losing a 20-year legacy of conservation and education work and a valuable learning and tourism offer for East Lothian and further afield.”

Conservationalist Chris Packham said: “The Scottish Seabird Centre [...] is a fantastic educational facility and visitor attraction. A place where people can learn about the birds, their biology and their conservation... and have a great cup of tea and slice of cake! Making it perfect in any weather!

“And its recent refurbishment has made it even better. Connecting people with nature, generating an affinity for it and then drawing upon this love to prompt proper conservation has never been more important.

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“So please do whatever you can to support the centre through these challenging times. Thank you.”

Broadcaster and cameraman Simon King added his support for the campaign.

He said: “The seas around the British Isles, especially those around Scotland, are some of the most important for seabirds in the world.

“Vast throngs of gannets, puffins and many others thrive on a diet of fish and other marine life that abounds in our temperate waters. So much of this extraordinary natural spectacle goes unseen, far beyond shore on remote islands or open water.

“The Scottish Seabird Centre plays a vital role in bringing us closer to the magnificent natural heritage of our seas by providing state of the art interpretation and educational facilities to many thousands of people. It is a bridge between the wild spirits of the ocean and the enquiring minds who want to discover it.

“In addition, it does tremendous work in the field of conservation and protection of this most precious natural asset. It’s survival through these challenging times and long into the future is paramount to our continued appreciation and understanding of the entire marine ecosystem upon which our very survival ultimately depends.

“Please help by supporting this appeal.”