Sir David Attenborough will open a new £1.1m volunteer training centre at Rutland Water.
The broadcaster will cut the ribbon today (Tuesday) at the new purpose built-centre, which will provide support and training for volunteers working with the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust.
Sir David, who is patron of the trust, will also take a tour of the new centre and meet some of the volunteers to find out about their work at Rutland Water Nature Reserve.
Trust director Simon Bentley said: “Volunteers contribute an extraordinary 35,000 hours at Rutland Water each year and we hope that the new centre will serve as the hub of an active, supportive community in which volunteers of all ages and backgrounds can participate and make a real difference to our natural heritage, to their lives and to Rutland Water and other nature reserves in the area.
“The centre will deliver an exciting and innovative range of learning opportunities, from dry-stone walling and hedge-laying, to bird ringing and wildlife recording.”
The volunteer centre, built on the Hambleton peninsula just past Egleton, was funded by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund with further contributions from Anglian Water, charitable trusts and a public appeal. The building has been designed to sit comfortably and sympathetically in its natural setting within the reserve.
Mr Bentley added: “The building incorporates important features to minimise its environmental impact including locally-sourced construction materials, maximum use of natural light and a high level of insulation and low energy fittings.
“It also features a living sedum roof and gabions filled with local stone, which will insulate the building and provide a rich variety of wildlife micro-habitats.”
Situated at the northern end of the reserve, the centre will provide a base for the reserve’s 400-strong team of volunteers. Volunteer co-ordinator Sarah Proud said: “Volunteers get involved in every aspect of work at the nature reserve, including habitat management, wildlife recording, welcoming visitors and assisting with events and activities.
“Volunteering enriches people’s lives and the new centre will not only enable us to support our existing volunteers, but also offer new and exciting opportunities for even more people to get involved. ”