Fund-raising begins to replace bird hide destroyed by fire

The fire at Paxton Pits Nature Reserve on Friday night destroyed a bird hide

The fire at Paxton Pits Nature Reserve on Friday night destroyed a bird hide - Credit: Archant

A bird hide which was destroyed in a fire has come closer to rising from the ashes after series of fundraising events to build a replacement - including those held by children - took place.

The Kingfisher Hide at Paxton Pits Nature Reserve, St Neots, was gutted in the blaze on April 24 which was believed to have been caused by a discarded barbecue.

Alfie and Harry Saunders, who live near the reserve, were upset by the fire and wanted to do something to help. They beat their £1,000 target after taking part in a kingfisher-related stair climb.

Mum Natalie said Alfie, seven, and Harry, three, used the park for exercise most days during the lockdown and it kept their spirits up, so they wanted to do something to help replace the hide.

She said: “As there are as few as 4,800 breeding pairs of kingfishers left in the UK we chose that number of stair climbs and worked together.

“The boys were overjoyed to achieve their fundraising goal over the weekend and we are so proud of their determination to help support somewhere very close to our hearts.”

They raised £1,115 through JustGiving

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Nicki Evans said her son Caleb, four, was also a regular visitor to the reserve and wanted to help,

He more than doubled his £200 JustGiving target by raising £475 by running the length of their garden 100 times.

The Friends of Paxton Pits, who care for the Huntingdonshire District Council reserve, are also fundraising to replace the hide through JustGiving and have raised just over £2,500 so far towards their target of £5,000.

The lockdown has meant that the visitor centre is closed, limiting the Friends’ fundraising activities and they have appealed for help, saying there has been an “immense” response so far.

Firefighters tackled the blaze but were unable to save the hide, which was built by volunteers in 2017-18. They managed to prevent the fire spreading to the boardwalk and surrounding areas.

The council has said it was “extremely disappointed” that the fire may have been caused by the public acting irresponsibly at a time when the reserve was being kept open during the lockdown.