Wildlife-friendly Silverdale Holiday Park in Cumbria has provided a local hospice with a £2,250 windfall – by offering a new home to a giant red squirrel.
Named Mawson, the ten-foot tall timber-carved squirrel was for many years a familiar feature at the entrance to a plush Windermere hotel, the Langdale Chase.
In spring 2017, however, the hotel’s owner Thomas Noblett sold the business – and its new owners served Mawson with his marching orders.
Thomas offered to take custody of the landmark sculpture, and had the idea of using Mawson to help raise much-needed funds for St Mary’s Hospice in Ulverston.
So he entered Mawson into an online auction which sparked fierce bidding from across the UK.
But when the online hammer finally fell in mid-August, there were celebrations when the winner was revealed as local parks group chief Michael Holgate.
And thanks to Michael, Mawson will now remain in his native Cumbria and enjoy a sea view from the entrance to Silverdale Holiday Park near Arnside.
“It’s a great result because our park has long had a red squirrel as its logo, and works closely with local nature groups to protect the colonies which thrive here,” said Michael.
“Many people expressed their dismay when Mawson disappeared from the hotel entrance as he had become something of a Lake District landmark.
“But now his future in Cumbria is assured, and he will still be on view to the public from the road.
“Best of all, Mawson has allowed us to donate a substantial sum to a very worthwhile cause as he takes up his new role as Silverdale Holiday Park’s mascot,” added Michael.
Michael’s family has owned 100-acre Silverdale Holiday Park for over 60 years, and it’s the flagship park of the six-strong group he has helped to develop.
He said that Mawson will have a dual role in welcoming guests to the park, and in helping to raise awareness of how people can help Cumbria’s native red squirrels to thrive.
Michael presented his cheque to St Mary’s Hospice area fundraiser Charlotte Windle when he arrived to collect Mawson from Low Wood Marina in Windermere, his temporary home.
Also present were Thomas Noblett and Kendal-based wood sculptor Andrew Levy who created Mawson from a storm-felled larch tree in the hotel’s grounds.
Photo: Mawson is settled into his new home at the entrance to Silverdale Holiday Park by business owner Michael Holgate (right) and, from the Westmorland Red Squirrels charity, organisers Bob Cartwright and Bob Hamnett