By Rose Barrett
A children’s nature charity in Donabate is back in business after vandals torched their den – thanks to the generosity of the public.
OWLS, which educates kids about the great outdoors, has reclaimed its Turvey Park base which was set alight by thugs.
Founder Andrew Fleming from Swords told Dublin Gazette: “We’ve seen lots of evidence in the past of fires lit, with drink cans and bottles and food packaging littering the area.
“This time they burnt picnic tables – you can see only the metal legs are left. They also pulled the durable tarpaulin off the benches in our outdoor workshop area and burnt those. Anything they could burn, they did.”
It is 10 years since father of two Andrew – nicknamed Mouse because he was born prematurely and fit in his mother’s hand – founded the charity.
Up until pandemic restrictions were enforced, ‘Mouse’ would visit schools or kindergartens and work with TY students in secondary schools.
He said: “OWLS created a structure in the woodlands, an essential fire area, with benches around it and beside it, we built an open-air cabin for shelter which is ideal for workshops.”
It was a safe area to provide outdoor environmental meetings during the ongoing restrictions to curtail the spread of Covid-19.
After the wanton vandalism Mouse put out an appeal on social media and was overwhelmed with the response.
“We set up a fundraiser via justgiving.com; initially I thought we might collect €1,000 towards fence repairs and a CCTV camera.
“We have already reached €8,500 – and now have a serious project in hand.”
OWLS plans to apply for permission to completely rebuild the woodland activity area, with a log cabin, a Hobbit-inspired shelter, a secret garden, orchard and more.
“The funding will be so well utilised,” said Mouse. “We also want to develop parts of the woodland for conservation… wildlife cameras, insect, mammal boxes and a built pond for amphibians.”
See OWLS Children’s Nature Charity on FB and Twitter or contact Mouse at 087 329 9936 if you’d like to organise a fundraiser on behalf of OWLS.