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Survival of Newtonmore Wildcat Centre at risk

By Gavin Musgrove

The future of the Wildcat Centre in Newtonmore is in as much danger as its feline namesake, it has been warned.

The centre on Main Street was opened in 2000 as an information centre for visitors and is managed by Newtonmore Community Woodland & Development Trust.

The non-profit company relies heavily on membership subscriptions, donations and sales from the centre to fund maintenance of the Wildcat Trail and Wildcat Experience as well as keeping the centre open.

Trust secretary Paul Allan (in purple) with volunteers Colin MacPhail and Yvonne Richmond.
Trust secretary Paul Allan (in purple) with volunteers Colin MacPhail and Yvonne Richmond.

Paul Woolrich, NCWDT chairman, said “At the moment we are struggling to find volunteers and our funds are depleting year on year as membership subscriptions and donations decline.

“At the same time we have ever-increasing overheads to keep the centre open. We provide a great service for visitors to the village. The Wildcat Experience and Wildcat Trail are recognised VisitScotland 4 star attractions.

“However without an injection of funds we cannot keep going and the trust will have to fold resulting in the closure of the wildcat centre.” Mr Woolrich added: “We would be extremely grateful for any assistance through increased membership and any donations.”

There are currently 131 model wildcats secreted around the village, in gardens, on roofs, up trees and in other harder to spot locations.

Each cat is painted differently; some in delicate detail others with splashy panache and all have their own special identity. Visitors earn a Wildcat Experience certificate if they spot 25 of the elusive cats and a small prize if they bag 50 of them.

The trust’s AGM takes place on April 30 at 7.30pm in the Newtonmore Village Lesser Hall. It is preceded by a talk by Sue Thomas on the Wild Flowers of Newtonmore at 7pm. For more information email wildcatnewtonmore@yahoo.com call (01540) 673131 or call in.

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