The future of Lancashire’s leading bird sanctuary could be in danger after its van broke down.
The Barn Owl Bill Charitable Trust, run by Barn Owl Bill himself – or Bill Higham – is a owl sanctuary in Southbrook Road, Leyland, which has been helping rescue owls and other raptors in and around Lancashire since 1992.
But the Trust could be in trouble after the van it uses to transport selections of 40 to 50 owls to events around the county broke down – and this time for good.
The vehicle - a large ex-16 seater mini bus - will cost in the region of £3,000 to fix.
Bill said: “It’s a bit of a kick in the teeth because the only way we get funding is through going to talks and festivals where we get donations.
“We paid nearly £9,000 for the van eight years ago but the gear box has gone and it’s not worth repairing for the costs.”
The minibus has been custom kitted out to carry the display birds and all the equipment that is needed for volunteers to travel and do our educational talks and displays.
It is their major source of income to continue doing the vital work they do.
Volunteer Tim Adams said: “Bill and Carol run the Trust on extremely limited funds relying on donations only. Now that their own van that’s managed to keep them going over the years has broken and is a write-off they can’t get to displays around Lancashire to do their shows and receive donations.”
Tim, who runs the Forest of Bowland Walks, added: “They are fantastic. Bill can’t walk anymore and Carol cares for him but they do so much good.”
Bill said: “I can’t do a lot myself any more with what’s wrong with me now so it comes down to Carol who is working so hard.”
The Trust is also looking for new volunteers.
Bill said: “We keep saying we might have to shut down. We’re up a creek without a paddle. We are running short of volunteers again with recent ones finding jobs that mean that can’t come to events with us.”
It follows calls from last November for volunteers to keep the legendary owl sanctuary going. Anyone who can offer the Trust help can ring Bill on 07775 746416.
Meanwhile, volunteer Laura Smith has organised an appeal through Crowdfunding in an effort to get the money needed for repairs to the van, or to buy a replacement. Anyone who wants to make a donation can visit https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/laura-smith-416.