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Woodland education centre Cameron’s Cottage set to open doors



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A RESIDENTIAL education centre created in memory of a young naturalist will soon open in the New Forest.

Cameron’s Cottage is in the RSPB woodland reserve Franchises Lodge in Nomansland, and will provide accommodation and a research facility for students and small groups.

It is named after nature lover Cameron Bespolka who died at the age of 16 in an Austrian skiing accident in 2013. He had enjoyed a visit to a similar centre in Florida a year earlier.

RSPB conservation officer Nick Tomalin, NPA interpretation and outreach manager Jim Mitchell, NPA member Zoë Clewer, NPA member Richard Clewer, NPA chair Prof. Gavin Parker, Salisbury MP John Glen, NPA CEO Alison Barnes, Franchises Lodge site manager Richard Snelling, and Franchises Lodge project officer Anneka Schofield
RSPB conservation officer Nick Tomalin, NPA interpretation and outreach manager Jim Mitchell, NPA member Zoë Clewer, NPA member Richard Clewer, NPA chair Prof. Gavin Parker, Salisbury MP John Glen, NPA CEO Alison Barnes, Franchises Lodge site manager Richard Snelling, and Franchises Lodge project officer Anneka Schofield

After his death his mother set up the Cameron Bespolka Trust which has been working with the RSPB to create a new sanctuary for wildlife at the cottage.

The RSPB saved the derelict site in 2018 with the help of a £200,000 contribution from the national park authority and £25,000 from Friends of the New Forest.

A further £425,000 from the trust saw the cottage undergo a complete renovation to turn it into a unique venue for youth groups, charities, schools, colleges, and universities.

The entire loft and roof of the new woodland centre has been turned into a bat sanctuary which includes rare species.

There are also boxes in the building which provide nests for swifts and in the winter months robins and sparrows can use specially created gaps in the cladding to escape the cold.

Cameron Bespolka was a keen naturalist
Cameron Bespolka was a keen naturalist

NPA chair Gavin Parker said of the cottage: “This is a wonderful example of positive partnership and I hope that young people enjoy and learn here for many years to come.”

Cameron’s mother Corrine has previously spoken about the woodland legacy of her son, saying: “It’s one small way of giving young people opportunities to experience nature first-hand and encourage them to make our planet a better place, instil a lifelong love of nature as well as reap the huge benefits that being outside brings.”

Salisbury MP John Glen recently visited and said: “I think it’s a fantastic scheme, and a great example of a successful management model for collaboration between communities, councils, organisations and volunteers. I’m keen to see the benefits it will invariably bring to young people thanks to its enviable position in the Forest.

“Not only does it offer the therapeutic value of nature but will introduce a new generation to the stewardship responsibility we all have for this beautiful part of the country.”



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