Bruichladdich has agreed to sponsor the Islay Natural History Trust for a period of two years starting immediately. The Trust was formed in 1984 and aims “to encourage the study, documentation and enjoyment of the natural history of Islay“.
Since 1992 the Trust has occupied the “Wildlife Centre” which comprises much of the ground floor of an old whisky bond in Port Charlotte owned by the Scottish Youth Hostel Association. Originally the bond formed part of the Lochindaal Distillery which closed in 1929.
The SYHA converted the upper floor of their bond into a Youth Hostel which they continue to operate, sleeping up to thirty people in comfortable surroundings.The INHT has benefited from an extremely generous lease terms of the ground floor, granted by the SYHA, that involved payment of only a “peppercorn rent”. This has enabled the Trust, a registered charity, to operate the Centre for the benefit of the wider community. The Wildlife Centre is open from May to October and has all-abilities access with a lecture room, a large ‘laboratory’ housing marine and freshwater aquaria plus other live exhibits, a reference library, display areas with exhibition boards, a lively children’s room and an office.
The INHT also runs a series of regular ‘talks’ in the Centre involving guest speakers who address natural history topics from around the world. Outwith the Centre the Trust runs regular walks, rambles, family activity days, Visitor Welcome evenings, a website and blog and attends various island events including the annual Show and Festival of the Sea.
Since 1984, the Trust has compiled a biological records database for Islay. Published and unpublished records for all flora and fauna groups have been gathered and computerised, amounting to several tens of thousands of individual observations.The lease period enjoyed by the INHT has come to an end however and the SYHA understandably now wishes to move the relationship to a more commercial basis. Bruichladdich are delighted to be able to assist with this process. This will enable the INHT to keep the Wildlife Centre open – which is of considerable benefit to the island as a visitor attraction.
The sponsorship will be for two years only which will enable all parties to assess the potential for a mutually beneficial longer term arrangement.