On Tuesday 12th November, it was a pleasure for Sussex Wildlife Trust to welcome two groups for ‘hard hat’ tours of the Rye Harbour Discovery Centre build, expertly led by Baxall Construction.
Everyone donned hard hats and high vis vests, then Sussex Wildlife Trust CEO, Tor Lawrence, welcomed each group, which comprised members of the Discovery Centre Appeal Board, Friends of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve, including Chair, Cliff Dean, local business people, councillors, as well as individuals who have all been wonderful supporters of the Discovery Centre project. Various Sussex Wildlife Trust staff were also present, including Director of Fundraising and Communications Caroline Pearce, Reserve Manager Barry Yates and new Head of Facilities and Premises Emma Forward (below), who has been tasked with the job of getting the centre up and running once the build is complete.
Matt Fothergill, Baxall Site Manager, gave a health and safety ‘toolbox talk’, then Baxall Contracts Manager Alan Leigh led everyone up the wheelchair-accessible ramp and inside, next to the huge viewing windows, where Alan spoke about the pleasures and challenges of such an unusual build, the locally-sourced, sustainable Sweet Chestnut cladding and other eco-features. Alan also touched on Baxall’s ethos, and how much they enjoy becoming involved with the community connected to every project they are involved in.
The groups were then shown around the building, including the flexible education and exhibition area, the section where the kitchen and toilets will be, the cafe and shop spaces, as well as where the offices will be.
After a good look around, and many interesting questions asked and answered, the groups then walked over to Rye Sailing Club for some delicious refreshments provided by volunteers Anne Yates and Leah Athol-Murray. Also on display was the beautiful Rye Harbour Quilt, which is being raffled to support the Discovery Centre appeal in March 2020, the 50th anniversary of the reserve.
Tor Lawrence said ‘It was such a pleasure to show our wonderful supporters how well the Discovery Centre is progressing, and to see and share such enthusiasm and interest in the project. Thank you to Baxall for a great tour, and to everyone for coming and for all their support. It’s wonderful news we now have National Lottery Heritage Fund money to run the Discovery Centre, but there is still a funding gap for building the Discovery Centre itself, so everyone’s continued support is invaluable. Thank you for helping us support the reserve to protect its amazing wildlife into the future.’