Posted by: tobermoryotterfund | July 9, 2016

Otter-lympics…going for bronze!

Andy Mortley at work

The marathon that started over 6 years ago is nearing its end.

I’m extremely pleased to announce that local artist and sculptor Andy Mortley has been engaged by Tobermory Otter Fund to begin preliminary creative work on the design and construction of an otter sculpture for Tobermory. Having such a talent onboard is a terrific boost (Photo credit: Andy Mortley at work, photographed by much missed Bill Clegg)

The unspent portion of the fund now stands at over £15,500, with an initial £10,000 allocated for the sculpture itself. An incredible £8000 of this has been raised by the otter van in Tobermory, the result of small donations by thousands of well-wishers.

The remainder and any further funds raised will be allocated to installation costs and contingencies, together with funding demands for otter conservation and welfare work as they arise. The bulk of the fund is currently held in a high interest account.

I’m also hoping that by the time you read this, I will have made progress gathering together a small working group to develop the project and bring it, finally, to fruition. With their local knowledge and experience I hope they will represent and reflect local opinion on what would serve the wildlife and Tobermory to best effect.

Of course, as this is intended to be a piece of public art, public consultation will also take place during this process, so please keep an eye open for future meetings if you’d like to get involved.

To follow our progress, please visit our Facebook page where updates are posted more regularly than here on the website.  Thanks.

Nic Davies
Voluntary Co-ordinator
Tobermory Otter Fund

Posted by: tobermoryotterfund | May 26, 2016

Important – please read!

Accusation note

I received this nasty anonymous note at the end of April 2016.  I decided to go public with it as I have no idea how widely this vile accusation has been circulated.  I have produced a comprehensive rebuttal, and published it on our Facebook page.

On June 1st, our local “Round&About” magazine will be published, in which I have directed interested parties both to this website and to the Tobermory Otter Fund Facebook page (“Tobermory Otter Fund”).  On reflection, for the sake of simplicity, if you have chosen to look at this website for information about this serious matter, could I ask you to click on the Facebook link on this website where you will find my rebuttal, together with reaction from supporters and friends who have chosen to comment there (something I can’t reproduce here).

Please remember, you don’t have to be “on” Facebook to view the page and comments (you simply can’t comment yourself if you’re not a Facebook user).

Once there, I hope the information is self-explanatory.  I would ask you to share this with anyone you know who may have supported Tobermory Otter Fund and/or who may live on Mull.  I apologise for its length, but I believe it is better to put down everything relevant in one place at one time. If you’re not a Facebook user, you can email me via this website if you have any questions or comments.  Otherwise please use Facebook as normal.

Many thanks,

Nic Davies                                                                                                                               Voluntary Co-ordinator                                                                                                       Tobermory Otter Fund

26 May 2016

Posted by: tobermoryotterfund | December 19, 2015

2015 – a year to remember!

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.

Eurasian river otter (Lutra lutra).  Hebrides, Scotland.

Please take a look at this year’s TOF advent calendar, currently running every day on our Facebook page “Tobermory Otter Fund”.

Nic Davies

Voluntary Co-ordinator
Tobermory Otter Fund

Posted by: tobermoryotterfund | October 31, 2014

Tobermory Otter Fund – End of 2014 season update

TOF website 2014 update

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!

Nic Davies
Voluntary Co-ordinator, TOF

Support out otters and you could win this unique otter photobook.  Please make your qualifying donation by June 30th.

Posted by: tobermoryotterfund | March 20, 2014

2014 – New season, old van, fresh approach….

2014 – New season, old van, fresh approach…

A big “thank you” to local police officer Donald McCuish, who, following the attempted theft of the wee TOF collecting box from my van a couple of years ago, suggested that same van, being not the most pristine example of motor engineering excellence, might BECOME the collecting tin.

I thought it was a brilliant idea back then, didn’t get a chance to implement it last year because the van had to be taken off the road, but this year I’ve finally plucked up the courage to cut a coin slot on both side panels to accept donations. This means the van can collect donations 24/7, with the security of locked doors all round. I will of course be emptying it every day.

EVERY Pound or Euro, penny or cent donated will support otters here on the Isle of Mull and all across the Hebrides through the following means:

Otter conservation measures
Welfare of individual otters
Public education and awareness
Long-term otter research

The collecting boxes suspended from the side of the van on both sides are just props to attract attention and it’s not possible to put money into them. I’ve also purchased a second van for personal use so that I don’t have to “hire” the TOF van from myself as I had to in 2012 and 2013 whenever I needed to drive anywhere (this “hire” fee being what I calculated the lost donations might be for the time the van was away and not collecting money – crazy I know!!).

And before anyone complains (and there will be some!) about where the money is coming from for all these van costs (tax, insurance etc), I’m paying for it all out of my own pocket, just as I have always done, with NOTHING taken from the Fund.

So, be assured that when you visit Tobermory, and pop a couple of pennies in the new slots, EVERY penny will go to help otters, just as it always has.

If you want to find the TOF van, it will be spending the season on Main Street, close to the world-famous Mishnish Hotel/pub that I live next door to. Come and give it a stroke :¬)

New coin slots cut into both sides of the TOF van allow donations to be taken 24/7.

New coin slots cut into both sides of the TOF van allow donations to be taken 24/7.

Posted by: tobermoryotterfund | June 24, 2013


It’s official! Mull Otter Group is now up and running as a constituted organisation. With the as yet unexplained death of our very own celebrity otter right here in Tobermory, it’s not before time!

On 26 May, a gathering of otter enthusiasts met at An Roth in Craignure and thrashed through all the boring procedural matters required to put the organisation on a proper footing. Key committee Officers were appointed; so welcome to Jane Stevens (Chair), Debby Thorne (Secretary), Ian Dickinson (Treasurer), together with press officer Barbara Macfarlane. All have been incredibly busy since being appointed.

The intention is that as the Tobermory Otter Fund is wound down as the sculpture project nears completion (see previous blog), its online presence and bank account etc will pass, seamlessly of course (!), to the new Mull Otter Group. Then the real otter conservation work can start in earnest, with lots of exciting and important projects being discussed.

As ever, if you would like to support the work of the new group, please donate via the Tobermory Otter Fund website donations page, and indicate that you wish your donation to be used for MOG’s work.

As for the rest, watch this space :¬)

Posted by: tobermoryotterfund | January 30, 2013

W’otter choice!

Welcome everyone!  Here are the current sculpture options we’re considering for the Tobermory otter project and a quick resume of our thinking.

We are now looking for matched funding to complete this particular project, so please get in touch if you are aware of anyone who may wish to help us.

TOF sculpture options 1

First of all, let me iterate that the sculpture fund has recently topped £5000 and contrary to previous postings will remain open until further notice, not least because I had forgotten to factor in the VAT we would have to raise.  All donations received are now being split 50/50, with half going into the main otter conservation fund being used to support the work of the new Mull Otter Group.  Please let me know if your donation is intended to be used exclusively for the sculpture project OR the conservation fund, and I will ensure it goes exactly where you want it.

In brief:

Following a visit to Skye last November to meet sculptor Laurence Broderick (, I’ve narrowed down our best options to the following four alternatives. I’m hoping there’s something here to please everyone.  I thought it would be worthwhile to gather thoughts from all of you out there in Facebookland.

Please feel free to comment on our Facebook page (open access, link on our website Home page)  or you can always contact me via this website where you’ll find the email

Don’t forget, the concept is to include a receptacle for donations within the sculpture itself (ie in the base or plinth), so the sculpture will be working hard every day to raise money for otter conservation.

The photomontage shows three sculptures. Laurence is holding a diving otter, I’m admiring the sculpture we initially proposed and the third on the right is actually a fountain, 152cms tall, that’s approximately 5 feet in old money. The water would cascade from the top points of the fronds (though it also stands alone as a sculpture even without water running).

The concept is to enlarge either of the diving/swimming otters to a size that is deemed appropriate for Tobermory.  This enlargement is actually an incredibly expensive process and will require further funding that I aim to obtain via the likes of matched funding from art bodies etc.

The last, fourth, option is that Laurence has offered at some point in the future to produce a bespoke original piece for Tobermory. He will let me have approximate costings for this when he is able to. If we go this route, there will be a significant delay as Laurence is very much in demand.

Many thanks.

Posted by: tobermoryotterfund | October 18, 2012

Competition Winners

Competition Winners

TOF Co-ordinator Nic Davies (left) presents the Chalmers family (that’s Thomas, Robert, Helen and Gordon) with their prize for winning the 2012 competition. This Tobermory family has supported the otter project ever since 2010, so this photo canvas of a Mull otter mum and cub, is going to a good home.

Many thanks to Lydia at the THA for taking the photo and to the THA Marine Visitor Centre for allowing us to do the presentation in their brand new display area in Tobermory (well worth a visit).

Posted by: tobermoryotterfund | October 18, 2012

Competition Winner!

We have a competition winner.  See the Competition Results page for details.

Thanks to the 261 otter fans who took part and helped us fund-raise.

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