The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT) has been leading the way for the conservation of cetaceans (whales, dolphins & porpoises) in western Scotland for over two decades.
The charity received two Charity Bank loans to help with essential repairs and improvements to its Isle of Mull Discovery Centre. Alison Lomax, Director of HWDT, shares here the important work they are undertaking and how the development of their Discovery Centre is helping to raise local marine life awareness.
“HWDT was founded in 1994 and has continued to grow and extend its reach ever since. With research, education and community outreach at its heart, the organisation conducts vital cetacean research projects and champions the importance of the west coast of Scotland as an area for marine life.
“We encourage the involvement of members of the public from across the area and the globe. We have our own research vessel, Silurian, which has operated over a 16-year period so far thanks to citizen scientist volunteers. This has enabled the collection of a consistent data set on animal trends and behaviour essential for understanding and conserving the marine life.
“Last summer we also launched a smartphone app, Whale Track, which has proved a vital tool to assist members of the public to further contribute to our research. Over 600 people are already using the app from right across the Hebrides, showing the ever-increasing engagement of local communities. All the data collected provide a critical baseline to understand the species in these western waters and to inform conservation needs.
“When we came up against a large unexpected expenditure, requiring emergency repair works to our premises at 28 Main Street (now our Discovery Centre), we needed to source funding quickly. At a time when this sudden cost could have caused major disruption to our operations, we were grateful to receive a loan from Charity Bank. The loan enabled HWDT to pay our contribution towards the roof repair costs (as one of a number of building owners) and repair the associated damage to the inside of the premises. The support of social lenders with reasonable rates is essential for small organisations like ours, especially at times like this.
“As a result of the improvements to the building, we were then able to create an interactive and impressive Discovery Centre where we now welcome over 15,000 people each year to learn about the local marine life. Our Discovery Centre is host to a variety of exhibits, offering daily talks and activities throughout the season as well as a newly incorporated Eco shop, offering Ecover refills and ocean-friendly gifts and homeware.
“The social sector has a really important role to play in benefitting society and the environment. The work we’ve been able to achieve with Charity Bank’s support was only made possible thanks to their savers’ decision to bank ethically.”