Butterfly World staff ‘beg’ owner to keep St Albans sanctuary open

PUBLISHED: 12:00 01 January 2016

Aerial photos of Butterfly World in St Albans taken by SkyPhocal

Aerial photos of Butterfly World in St Albans taken by SkyPhocal

SkyPhocal

“Sherlock Holmes” actor Amanda Abbington says she is “incredibly upset” about the folding of Butterfly World.

Staff at Butterfly World in St Albans have ‘begged’ the sanctuary’s owner to halt its looming closure.

In an open letter to chairman John Breheny, they pointed out there had been “overwhelming” support from the community to keep the nature project open, including from Sherlock Holmes actor Amanda Abbington.

The team has also urged John to make public his future plans for the 27-acre Green Belt site.

In early December, John announced that Ipswich-based civil engineering firm J Breheny Contractors, which owns Butterfly World, would close the sanctuary, effective from the end of the 2015 season, because of a succession of trading losses.

Seven permanent staff members are being made redundant as a result. During its 2015 summer season, when 120,000 people visited, Butterfly World employed 43 people, supported by a team of over 50 volunteers who worked in the gardens as tour guides and photographers.

John’s announcement of the closure has sparked a furore, with supporters offering help via various campaigns to save the attraction.

This in turn has prompted staff at the project, based off Noke Lane in Chiswell Green, to post a ‘thank you’ comment on Butterfly World’s Facebook page.

It says: “We have been absolutely overwhelmed by the response from you all on hearing the sad news of our closure.

“It is lovely to know so many people have understood and appreciated the work Butterfly World was carrying out.

“We have written an open letter to our owner, John Breheny, to ask him to answer the questions that we are not able to. We will publish his response as soon as we receive it.”

The letter says that within hours of the closure being announced on the sanctuary’s Facebook page, the post had been seen by nearly 150,000 people and generated over 750 comments expressing dismay and “a determination to keep Butterfly World open”.

The open letter to John says: “We are all concerned about your future plans for the site, which you have not shared with us.

“As you know, when Butterfly World first opened in 2009 it was a bare patch of earth with no resident butterflies.

“Less than five years later, 28 different British species had been recorded here.

“On behalf of all the friends of Butterfly World, we beg you to reconsider [its] closure and work with us and the local community to find a way to make it financially viable.”

Among those reacting to news of the closure was animal lover and actor Amanda Abbington, who tweeted that she was “incredibly upset” as “it’s a wonderful place for children and adults alike. Very sad. Such a shame.”

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