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Search is on for volunteers to join new ‘lighthouse family’

ByCharley Williams

Jan 29, 2017

North Tyneside Council is looking for interested individuals to establish a ‘Friends of St Mary’s Lighthouse’ group or join existing volunteer organisations already active in the area.

Volunteers would carry out a range of duties from environmental and conservation work to general maintenance and learning specialist engineering skills.

A volunteer day is being held at the lighthouse on Saturday 21 January to give visitors the chance to find out more about how they can get involved and what opportunities are available.

The recruitment drive forms part of the council’s bid for funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to restore the building in order to ensure its long-term survival.

Development funding of £164,300 was awarded in May 2016 to progress the plans and a Stage Two application will be submitted to the HLF in the spring.

If successful, the council will secure £2.2m to allow crucial works to ensure the survival of the lighthouse tower and former keepers’ cottages to be carried out. It would also mean the original lighthouse optic (light) can be rebuilt at the base of the tower.

Work is continuing to develop the Stage Two bid before it is submitted and prospective volunteers are being called on to do their bit to help.

North Tyneside’s Elected Mayor Norma Redfearn said: “We’re on the lookout for anyone interested in giving up some of their time, no matter how much or how little. You might want to get involved in conservation and environmental projects or learn rare, traditional skills, which may otherwise have been lost, by helping to rebuild the optic.

“This could also be a brilliant opportunity for students, young people or anyone looking for work in the environmental field to pick up some vital new skills to add to their CV, so we look forward to welcoming as many people along on our volunteer day as possible.”

Representatives from St Mary’s Seal Watch, Northumberland Wildlife Trust, the RSPB, Friends of Brierdene, St Mary’s Island Wetland Conservation Group, North Tyneside Council, Association of Lighthouse Keepers, British Divers Marine Life Rescue, Orca and VODA are expected to attend.

The event takes place from 11.30am to 3pm when there will be free entry to the lighthouse, including a tour of the tower, as well as free parking in the car park between 11am and 3pm for anyone attending. There will also be a chance for people to look at the restoration plans in more detail, activities will be put on for children and light refreshments will be provided.

For more information call the lighthouse on (0191) 200 8650, email stmaryslighthouse@northtyneside.gov.uk or visit http://www.visitnorthtyneside.com

Find out more about the restoration project at http://my.northtyneside.gov.uk/category/647/st-marys-island-and-headland