We are thrilled to be partnering with RSPB to renovate a derelict cottage deep in the middle of RSPB’s new reserve in the New Forest, Hampshire, Franchises Lodge, to create a unique residential educational facility.
How the site will look once the project is complete:
Take an aerial tour around Cameron's Cottage and the surrounding forest:
Trustee Corinne Cruickshank met up with RSPB Chief Executive, Beccy Speight, recently to check on progress at Cameron's Cottage. It won't be long before the doors will open to young naturalists everywhere.
Beccy reflected on the progress so far; "The partnership between the Cameron Bespolka Trust and the RSPB feels like a real meeting of minds. Cameron’s Cottage is a very special place and the opportunity to have young people come and stay and have the chance to be immersed in such nature rich surroundings is hugely important. Nature’s restoration needs all of us to care and take action and we know that people only care for what they can understand and therefore grow to love.
We also know that being in natural surroundings brings huge benefits in terms of an individual person’s physical and mental wellbeing. The kind of experience offered by a stay at Cameron’s Cottage in a supportive communal environment will definitely start young people on that journey, both for nature and for themselves. We’re incredibly grateful that the Trust has chosen to fund and work alongside us to achieve this vision.”
We were very proud to be the first group to test out Cameron’s Cottage last weekend. All our Trustees and 10 Young Ambassadors came to Cameron’s Cottage and find out what a stay is like and to discover the RSPB Franchises Lodge nature reserve.
Cameron’s Cottage is so nearly ready, just final touch up details before the building is handed back to the RSPB. So we had fun camping close to the Cottage but using the facilities which made the whole weekend even more of an adventure.
The focus of Cameron’s Cottage is to invite young people from all walks of life to come and stay, learn, develop skills and confidence in this beautiful wildlife rich forest. The Cottage will sleep 19 (and additional camping available) and has an Outdoor Classroom adjacent to accommodate day time activities as well as being a perfect place to eat outside. There is also an enclosed study centre at the end of the Classroom which will have facilities for research and data analysis to take place.
Cameron’s Cottage is also a home for wildlife. There are bat boxes in every roof space as well as on the surrounding trees, Swift bricks, House Martin cups and many other nooks and crannies around the place for birds to nest.
This building is off grid but there is mains water and but no mains gas or electricity. Much research has gone into making this place reliable and energy efficient. There are 72 solar panels, 3 large batteries, a mechanical ventilation system, an air source pump and under floor heating. There will also be a back up generator for those dark winter days. The most energy efficient part of the Cottage is the superb insulation. And the RSPB are very proud to have supplied all the timber (douglas fir) from the surrounding reserve.
We can’t wait for you to organise your group and come visit, aimed especially at 15-25 year olds from all backgrounds and walks of life. We are working with educational establishments such as schools and universities, conservations groups, youth groups, specialist charities, scouts and more. Reservations will be on line as of September but please email me in the meantime if you have any questions or enquiries email@example.com or Anneka Schofield, Project Officer RSPB Franchises Lodge firstname.lastname@example.org.
What an altogether awesome week it has been! An incredibly momentous occasion to be hosting the first groups of young people at Cameron’s Cottage to experience just a few of the outdoor activities that will be on offer.
The RSPB hosted three separate small groups to test out some of the outdoor activities at Franchises Lodge nature reserve. The first group, Employ My Ability, is a charity that helps students with learning disabilities develop vital skills. They learnt about habitat management and helped clear the invasive non-native rhododendrons.
The second group Black To Nature led by Birdgirl took part in a bio blitz activity organized by Russell Wynn and Marcus Ward from Wild New Forest with each group identifying over 110 different species in just 1 hour!
And the third group of University students and volunteers carried out deer population and impact surveys in the New Forest.
These are just some of the endless possibilities around Cameron’s Cottage. For now, groups could not stay due to COVID restrictions and the Cottage is not 100% ready but it was very special indeed to be part of the day.
The event was expertly organised by Anneka at RSPB England. We are so grateful to our amazing supporters for making this possible. Thank you.