A team of handy National Lottery winners have spent the winter lockdown building nest boxes to house some of Wales’ woodland bird population. The creative winners hope that their efforts will help bolster the birds’ presence in two Welsh nature reserves.
Keen to be part of the action were Davinia and Jeff Pritchard from Porthrhyd in Carmarthenshire, who won £1M on the EuroMillions UK Millionaire Maker draw in June 2015. The wildlife-loving couple joined Lottery winners nationwide who gathered round their kitchen tables and shed workbenches to carry out this project remotely.
The result of their collaboration is a collection of lovingly crafted nest boxes which will now be installed at two of the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales sites; Gelli Hir Wood in Gower and Melincwrt Waterfalls in Neath, where the Wildlife Trust team hopes they can be used to encourage woodland birds – including robins, blue tits, great tits, coal tits, goldfinches and chaffinches to nest.
Davinia and Jeff know how important it is to give birds and animals a home of their own, having built a smallholding from scratch. As well as completely transforming their own house, they have built a sheep shed, chicken house and beehives.
The couple, who made 12 nest boxes in total, were excited to visit Gelli Hir Woods, on the edge of Fairwood Common in Gower to deliver the boxes and see for themselves how and where they would be used by the Wildlife Trust.
Jeff said, “The last 12 months have been hard going and it was great to have a project to get stuck into. Looking after our animals keeps me busy for a lot of the week but it was good to have something new to focus on. I really enjoyed being able to make something, especially something that is being put to such good use.”
Davinia, who is a call handler coordinator for the Welsh Ambulance Service and has worked non-stop during the pandemic, said, “The day job can get pretty intense at times, so it was a relief to be able to switch off and do something hands on. I let Jeff build the nest boxes and I was in charge of painting and decorating – just like at home!
“It was also lovely to be working on a project with so many other Lottery winners and to see the nest boxes they came up with. Some of the winners are so creative and their boxes were all completely different and totally original. I hope that these lucky birds will appreciate all the hard work that went into making their new homes.”
Davinia and Jeff were joined by other Welsh winners including Faye and Richard Davies (from Brecon and won £1M), David Taylor (from Talbot Green and won £1M), Julie Amphlett, Doreen Thompson and Louise Haran (three of the Catering Girl syndicate from Neath Port Talbot that won £25M), and Will and Sophie Richards (from Swansea and won £1M). Although they couldn’t work together in person, the team all took inspiration from one another, sharing images of their creations online.
Paul Thornton, Senior Officer, Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales said, “We have had nest boxes on site in the past but over time they get damaged by the elements, animals and the birds themselves. As people are allowed to travel more widely again, it will be lovely to have new nest boxes to attract birds and to allow our visitors to see the birds nesting.
“We’re grateful to the winners for their hard work – and to players of The National Lottery too. With every ticket they buy, players are helping Wildlife Trusts just like ours to give a new lease of life to wildlife and wild places and benefit communities by offering the chance to experience nature on their doorstep.
“Nationally, since its launch in 1994 more than £338 million in National Lottery funding has helped support 46 Wildlife Trusts in the UK to deliver projects for nature’s recovery across all four Nations.”
Nest box building is the latest volunteering project big National Lottery winners have been involved with. Since the start of the pandemic, the previous winners have pooled their resources to create fresh vegetable planter boxes for schools and NHS workers as well as knitting twiddlemuffs for people with dementia – this involved making small garments for premature babies and knitting Christmas angels for local charities.