Monkton Nature Reserve has been awarded £19,000 from the Postcode Society Trust.
The money will be used for core costs and to employ staff, including a new part-time education officer who starts his role on November 1, and two part-time general assistants and a centre manager.
The grant will also help the reserve navigate the quieter winter months. In Summer 2020 trustees for Monkton Nature Reserve had to make the painful decision to notify five paid staff of redundancy due to the continued closure forced by the pandemic.
The reserve was shut from March of that year through to June this year. With no trading income for more than a year and a slump in membership from over 600 to fewer than 100, the future had been uncertain.
To add to the problems, a catastrophic water leak in February resulted in a huge and unexpected cash outlay to replace nearly 200 metres of pipework. Survival has been underpinned through the work of volunteers, coupled with substantial support from Thanet District Council through government-backed Covid-19 grant schemes.
And now the reserve is set to survive and flourish.
Trustees adviser Dr Clive Nuttman said: “”The Thanet Countryside Trust, which owns and manages Monkton Nature Reserve, has won a grant from the Postcode Society Trust. The award is for core costs and will be used to employ key staff as we seek to stabilise the organisation following the pandemic.
“Things are going remarkably well, we have weathered the storm and are set to survive the winter and carry on building next year.
“Membership is now recovering with just under 300 members currently and our second-hand book shop, gift shop and cabin café have been picking up.
And there is more good news as stargazing at the reserve returns after a two year gap.
Dr Nuttman said: “After a two-year absence, stargazing is returning to Monkton Nature Reserve this Thursday, October 21. The reopening event is fully booked as we relaunch this popular activity. Regular monthly events are being planned – for details contact firstname.lastname@example.org”
Entrance for stargazing events for members of the reserve is free, and there is a £5 entrance fee for visitors.
Monkton Stargazers telescopes are available to use, but people can also bring their own.
Tonight the stargazers will view the Orionid Meteor Shower, which is the most prolific meteor shower associated with Halley’s Comet.
Three local companies have also come forward to restore the observatory dome at the reserve with work taking place over the coming months.