Tobermory Otter Fund – End of 2014 season update
A version of this article is published in November’s edition of Mull’s “Round & About” magazine. I’d normally do the update in December but things are different this year. This information is also on the Facebook page “Tobermory Otter Fund”.
First, lots of good news. Since 2010, the grand total raised has recently exceeded £10,500, a sterling effort all round.
As detailed previously, given the higher cost of a sculpture that will make a real statement in Tobermory and hopefully raise lots of money for otters in the years to come, the concept since 2012 has been to raise half the required sculpture funding, the rest to be sourced from a matched-funder (company, arts grant, wealthy otter fan etc). Crowd-funding has been suggested as a potential source, but this would necessitate the abandonment of finding a matched-funder as the two are incompatible. So, for the moment, and as long as I’m able, I will continue my efforts to locate the former.
Encouragingly, the sculpture fund now stands at a whopping £7500, recently boosted by a very generous donation from someone who will remain anonymous for the moment (watch this space!).
Regarding other amounts raised through various means, including a share of donations taken by the now famous otter van that has become a much-photographed visitor favourite on Tobermory’s Main Street, I’m also very happy to announce that the running total of non-sculpture funds is now £2500, money that is earmarked for on-the-ground conservation work.
This overwhelming public generosity from both visitors and locals means that otter conservation projects on Mull and across the Hebrides can now be supported and TOF is awaiting matched-funding proposals from the likes of the Mull Otter Group. £250 of this will be donated to the International Otter Survival Fund on Skye by way of a thank-you to Laurence Broderick, the sculptor and IOSF supporter whose work has been at the forefront of the sculpture project but whose work may not finally be selected. IOSF is currently rehabilitating an otter cub from Mull named “Mangal”, a project already supported by TOF with a £250 grant in 2013.
So what’s been achieved to date? Through production of an otter photobook, TOF funded the commission of the acclaimed “Elvis” skeleton display in Tobermory’s Marine Exhibition, together with other educational materials used there. The profile of otters on Mull has been raised both locally and globally through public awareness work including this very busy Facebook page which attracts active support and comment from around the world.
This effort has now been joined by the Mull Otter Group whose creation was instigated by TOF in 2013 and to which a small grant was made. Nearly £1000 has also been raised since 2010 for Tobermory RNLI in joint fundraising at their Lifeboat Days. As mentioned above, IOSF continues to receive support. And of course, the sculpture project has been dominant throughout this period.
All of this without a single penny donated by the public being spent on running costs of any kind, something I’m particularly pleased about.
Now the “bad” news. Having been deserted by other TOF instigators early on, I’ve been the reluctantly sole custodian of the TOF project for over four years, and frankly, I’m pretty tired. I also need to widen my wildlife conservation horizons, very likely away from Mull. I’ve spent countless hours and days since 2010 doing my best to make this a success and contributed a scary amount of personal income to it.
I’m proud of progress so far and believe I’ve now largely done my bit. I hope I’ve laid a solid foundation and it’s time for others to build on that. Consequently, I’d be very interested to hear from anyone with an interest in otter conservation, fundraising and public art who might wish to take the sculpture project to its conclusion.
Priorities for anyone new will be the formation of a small group to progress fundraising and consider which sculpture Tobermory residents would like, where it could go and how to arrive at final decisions. Will exisiting work by Laurence Broderick be bought, or will a commission be offered either to him or another sculptor? Could a national sculpture competition be launched? Hopefully, new blood will bring forth lots of innovative ideas but I’ll remain involved until any newcomers are happy with taking everything on.
Finally, it seems inadequate, but a huge “thank you” to everyone who has supported the TOF project since 2010.
For otters. Forever!
Voluntary Co-ordinator, TOF