Published: 06:00, 10 January 2021
BBC TV presenter Steve Brown has handed over £1,240 to a wildlife rescue service raised from sales of a villager calendar.
Proceeds from the sell-out 2021 calendar, which features photographs of bees, badgers and even a baby owl taken around Sittingbourne by members of the Borden Wildlife Group, have been given to Sheppey-based Kent Wildlife Rescue Service.
The calendar was launched at the start of December with a pop-up stall outside the Maypole Inn in The Street. Members sold wildlife mugs, prints and cards and produced a backing track of wildlife sounds, talks, music and poems at the launch.
Steve, who presents the TV show Countryfile, lives in Sittingbourne and agreed to hand over a decorated cheque to Kent Wildlife Rescue Services' founder Lorraine St John from Sheerness.
She arrived for the socially-distanced ceremony with Peter, her rescue fox. The presentation was 'broadcast' to the village on social media to keep it covid-safe.
The group raised a further £700 which will be spent in the parish. Gaynor Aspin, one of the members, said: "We are thinking of creating two wildlife signs for the village. They are about £350 each."
The calendar's costs were met by sponsors Let's Go Green Cabs, the Maypole Inn, Borden Bees Glamping and Events and Hop House Accommodation. Christmas cards of local wildlife were sponsored by Paws 'n' Purrs Dog Walks and Animal Visits and Borden Bees.
Also present at the launch were Swale council's deputy leader Cllr Mike Baldock and the mayor and mayoress Cllrs Paul and Sarah Stephen. Swale council has given the group a £300 community grant.
Gaynor said: "The grant and sponsorship money allowed us to donate all our proceeds to good causes. It was hard work but worth it to promote the healing powers of nature."
Fellow organiser Vivien Smith, who runs the group's Facebook page, said: "Steve Brown spoke about meeting people who are protecting nature while working on Countryfile and how it affected his life. Lorraine St John told us how people have rallied more than ever to support her work rescuing animals.
"She said her volunteers were busier than ever as many other similar organisations had closed down during the coronavirus pandemic."
It had been third time lucky for the pop-up stall. Organisers had postponed it from May and then November. The limited number of guests were treated to hot mulled wine and mince pies from the Maypole Inn's takeaway service.