Tobermory Otter Fund – end of season update.
Is this the end of the beginning, or the beginning of the end? Or just a largely irrelevant Churchillian quandary to kick off this 2015 summary?
The stated intention over the last couple of years has been to raise 50% of the cost of an otter sculpture and then find a donor (corporate or otherwise) to contribute matched funding for the other 50%.
Thanks to the generosity of thousands of folks (visitors and locals) and the effectiveness of the otter van as a donation collecting device, I’m pleased to report that the Fund has achieved the new, final, target of £10,000, with the excess being made available to fund any immediate needs of those working on otter conservation and welfare on Mull and Skye. Previous funding separate to this has been used for the production of the “Elvis” skeleton display which is now an educational feature in Tobermory’s “Mull Aquarium” (do visit if you haven’t , it’s terrific).
Whilst I’ve tried several avenues to obtain the extra 50%, this has so far proved unsuccessful, though one approach to a Scottish celebrity has yielded a donation of £500, which will be accessed once the sculpture commission is properly underway. The commission itself has been provisionally awarded to a local artist but substantive work cannot begin because arts funding bodies seem to prefer projects that have either not yet been fully commissioned or have not undergone any significant development. This is unhelpful to progress but is a situation we’ll have to live with as it would be counter-productive to neglect a major source of potential matched funding.
Until this funding is found, the existing fund will be placed in a high interest account to ensure that it does not decline in value in the meantime. Any donations received in the intervening period will be placed staright into the separate fund to be used for otter conservation and welfare as and when the need arises.
Once the additional money is secured, it will then be possible to progress to the next stage of design. Whereupon the intention is to consult with folks on Mull to make sure we’re heading in the right direction. As an artwork, the old adage, “You can’t please all the people all the time” will inevitably kick-in, but I hope whatever form the final sculpture takes it will achieve its primary goals, namely to raise both awareness about Mull’s otters and funds for their conservation. I also hope it will become a West coast “icon”, and a must-see for visitors.
Although hugely successful, and the subject of thousands of photos (it may even feature in Gordon Buchanan’s upcoming wildlife series), the otter van has tied me to Tobermory so I’ve decided this is its last season. However, I can thoroughly recommend the method to anyone else looking for an extremely cost-effective way of raising funds for a good cause! I wish I could claim the credit but it was actually the brainwave of Donald MacCuish who, whilst still a police officer, came up with the ingenious idea of putting coin slots in the side of the van to reduce the risk of the external collection boxes.
The TOF project was started by a group of people, and I hope it will end in the same manner. Along the way, it has spawned the Mull Otter Group, which is now completely independent of TOF, is raising its own funds and is getting stuck in to some of the issues affecting Mull’s otters.
Updates on progress will be posted on TOF’s Facebook page and website, though the latter may now be closed to save money.
Many, many thanks for your support over the years.
Tobermory Otter Fund