North West Wales

Anglesey red squirrels' Heritage Lottery Fund windfall

A project dedicated to boosting Anglesey's red squirrel population has received a windfall from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The Friends of the Anglesey Red Squirrels will use the £300,000 to restore squirrels to gardens, parks and woods across the island.

Cefn Mawr in Wrexham was also given £862,000 to regenerate its town centre.

The Llŷn Maritime Museum, Gwynedd, was also awarded a grant to conserve its building.

It will use the £319,000 to protect its current site in the old St Mary's Church at Nefyn near Pwllheli and create a suitable space to store and exhibit its collection of artefacts.

Iolo Willams, a broadcaster on Springwatch who is also patron of the Friends of the Anglesey Red Squirrels , said: "The excellent work being undertaken on Anglesey represents the red squirrel's best chance of survival in Wales.

"It is the only increasing population in the country and with dedicated funding, I am confident that the squirrels can expand to every corner of the island."

The hope is to build on an existing 13-year project and get local people involved in conserving the species through practical training sessions.

They will be encouraged to report sightings and use feeding stations and hair surveys to monitor population growth.

Thirty volunteers will also be trained to help the trust through social media, guided tours and making nest boxes.

Dr Peter Lurz, an international expert on red squirrels, said: "Anglesey is exceptional in the UK in that it is one of the very few places where red squirrels have recovered and expanded their range as a result of the Friends of the Anglesey Red Squirrels project and immense local support.

"The past work at Anglesey has provided both invaluable lessons and hope for red squirrel conservation in the whole of the UK."

Wrexham council was also awarded £862,200 for the second phase of its revamp of Cefn Mawr town centre.

'Tremendous difference'

The first phase saw it given £1m by the HLF in 2005 and the new grant will complete the repair and conservation of 18 buildings, encourage business start-ups, and introduce more measures to attract tourists.

The council hopes to create 24 full-time jobs and safeguard the same number, while giving skills to 180 local people.

Warren Coleman, chair of the Cefn Mawr Regeneration and Townscape Heritage Initiative Partnership, said: "The first injection of lottery funding made a tremendous difference to the village, helping to breathe new life into key buildings and creating opportunities for residents, community groups and businesses.

"Everything is really coming together in Cefn Mawr."

Llŷn Maritime Museum has two years to submit more detailed plans before its full funding becomes available.

Trustees hope to train more volunteers and employ somebody to carry out guided walks and other activities.

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