Rescue bid for St Albans’ popular Butterfly World

PUBLISHED: 19:30 21 January 2016

Butterfly World's gates

Butterfly World's gates

Archant

There is a glimmer of hope on the horizon for closed St Albans attraction Butterfly World as a group of volunteers and supporters have banded together to find alternative funding.

They fear that, if left unmaintained, butterfly numbers will decline at the carefully tended 27-acre Green Belt site which boasts large wildflower meadows.

Supporters have launched Save Butterfly World (SBW), a group formed recently to save the treasured tourist attraction in response to its owner’s announcement of the sanctuary’s closure.

The Breheny Group said in early December that the 2015 season would be the project’s last, because of a succession of trading losses.

Ironically, 2015 was its most successful yet with 120,000 visitors over the eight-month season enjoying the attraction off Noke Lane in Chiswell Green.

Save Butterfly World is a group of people passionate about the site, and includes those from St Albans and neighbouring areas who are long-term members, or have carried out volunteer work at the £27 million attraction.

Chairman John Horsfield said: “We hope to do something to preserve this vital project.

“We understand that the current owners believe it not to be financially viable in the way it is currently operated.”

Following a ‘crowded’ meeting on January 10, organised on the back of large social media interest, SBW was launched with John saying, “there was loads of enthusiasm and lots of talent within the group.

“We are made up of a number of volunteers, charity workers, professionals and friends of the project who desperately want to see it survive.

“We are not a protest group. We do not intend to create any negative feelings towards the current owners and operators, and acknowledge the work done and contributions made to keep the project alive for as long as they have.”

SBW intends forming a charity or social enterprise capable of running the butterfly sanctuary, as members believe they can source external investment and funds to support the project.

John explained: “As a charity, the door opens to alternative funding sources that will not have been previously available to Breheny. We wish to work with Breheny to understand more about the financial constraints of the project, in the hope they will support the handover to us, or have some kind of joint approach.”

He said the group understood from people close to the sanctuary that making it an all-seasons attraction was vital to turning it around, “and we believe this is achievable”.

SWB has sought a meeting with the engineering firm to discuss options.

Butterfly World attracts a large number of butterfly species and other invertebrates, some of which until recently were considered extinct in Herts and other areas.

SBW understands that, left unmaintained, the land may continue to attract these creatures for as long as nine months but after that, numbers will decline.

For more information or to join the group, go to www.savebutterflyworld.com

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