The beach cleaning charity Beach Buddies has opened its first visitor centre at Niarbyl, thanks to support from the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.
The company made a donation to enable Beach Buddies to provide digital presentations, display boards and leaflets which will be given to all visitors to the facility, with a particular emphasis on schools.
The Beach Buddies visitor centre opened on April 11th at the beach-side former summerhouse known as Knockuskey Cottage, which is featured regularly in tourist literature and was a major feature in the Patrick Swayze movie ‘Keeping Mum’, filmed in the Isle of Man in 2005.
A lease for the premises was agreed with the owners, Manx National Heritage, which is keen to support the charity’s aim of raising awareness about the dangers caused to wildlife and the environment by the careless disposal of litter.
‘In the last 12 months alone we collected 3,540 bags of rubbish from Manx beaches – that’s an estimated 920,400 items,’ said Beach Buddies founder Bill Dale. ‘This is an enormous amount of rubbish and credit has to be given to the dedication of the thousands of volunteers who have helped make a difference to our coastline.
‘But it’s clear from the first few months of this year that we will probably collect a similar amount during 2015, if not more. We have been in discussions with the Steam Packet Company for some time and we both felt that purchasing this equipment would help educate young people. It’s time that society started to raise awareness and something is done to stop this pollution at the source.’
Beach Buddies already has strong connections with many of the Island’s schools, with groups of schoolchildren regularly joining in beach cleaning sessions. Now that the charity has its own visitor centre, it has issued an open invitation to schools to go to Niarbyl and learn more, and get involved in a practical way.
The charity is also keen to use the visitor centre to host events for other groups such as Scouts, Guides and Brownies and for corporate team-building days.
‘We are delighted to get involved with the Beach Buddies visitor centre,’ said Steam Packet Company Chief Executive Mark Woodward. ‘This is a very positive initiative, and we wanted to give our support to get the project off the ground.
‘We are keen to raise awareness about the careless disposal of litter and to join in getting the message across to the public about the dangers this causes to the environment and wildlife.
‘The Steam Packet Company has itself been a victim of the damage that can be caused by debris in the sea, as was witnessed with Manannan last week. So we are highly aware of the cost of repairs and the disruption this can cause to passengers.’
For more information about the work of Beach Buddies, email [email protected] or search ‘Beach Buddies’ on Facebook and like the charity’s page.
Beach Buddies founder Bill Dale (centre) pictured at the new visitor centre at Niarbyl with Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Marketing and Online Manager Renée Caley and Sales Development Manager Brian Convery.