Last-ditch plea to Save Lochaber Geopark

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Volunteers running Lochaber Geopark are urging people to help save the organisation as the deadline for their fundraising campaign draws nearer.

The community-run, not-for-profit charity launched its Save Lochaber Geopark crowdfunding campaign earlier this year to try to raise enough funds to keep its visitor centres open and offer new educational activities. The campaign was devised in response to funding cuts, which have put the future of the geopark in jeopardy.

The team has set out to raise £55,000 to keep the charity going after the Scottish Government confirmed it will no longer be supporting Scottish geoparks. However, the fundraising deadline expires at the end of June.

Lochaber MP Ian Blackford has thrown his weight behind the Save Lochaber Geopark crowdfunding campaign after he visited staff at the Fort William High Street visitor centre.

‘I had the opportunity last week to see first hand the wonderful work that the dedicated Lochaber Geopark volunteers do day to day,’ he said.

‘They dearly want to carry on, and even expand, their work in promoting and enhancing the geological heritage of Lochaber.

‘I would urge everyone who can to donate to the online crowdfunder to help save this organisation that gives so much to the local community and beyond. For my part, I will do all that I can to help support the staff and will leave no stone unturned to give them the best chance of a bright future.’

Geoparks are designated areas with outstanding geological heritage and the Lochaber area has many geological features of international, national and regional interest and importance, including Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis. The park also includes Glen Coe, the Isle of Eigg’s volcanic outcrop An Sgurr and the Parallel Roads of Glen Roy.

A recorded 35,000 people come into the geopark’s Fort William High Street visitor centre each year, together with an estimated 6,000 at the centre at Darwin’s Rest.

The money raised by this new crowdfunding campaign will be spent on employing the organisation’s full-time project manager and ensuring a self-sustaining future for the geopark. The aim is to keep the organisation’s visitor centres open, which would allow it to continue to provide a full range of indoor and outdoor educational activities.

Lochaber Geopark, founded in 2004 and run purely on a voluntary basis until 2013, serves the entire Lochaber region, covering more than 4,500 square kilometers, including Ben Nevis, Glen Coe, the Silver Sands of Morar and the Small Isles.

A campaign video, featuring broadcaster Paul Murton, presenter of Grand Tours of Scotland, and the crowdfunder site can be found through the Lochaber Geopark Facebook page and website.