The award has been made by the Devon Greater Horseshoe Bat Project. The Project, which is led by the charity Devon Wildlife Trust and supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, has been working since 2015 to help conserve dwindling populations of what is one of the UK’s rarest mammals, the greater horseshoe bat.
At a presentation made at Beer Regatta on 15 August the village’s own initiative ‘Bat Friendly Beer’ was highlighted as a major reason for the award. Ruth Testa who leads the Devon Greater Horseshoe Bat Project said:
““I am delighted to present this award to honour the efforts of the community of Beer in making their village a better place for greater horseshoe bats. Bat Friendly Beer was established by local businesses, village organisations and educators who came together to deliver benefits for bats, other wildlife, and people. The group aims to promote the village of Beer as a ‘bat friendly’ place to live and work. They do this by working with the school and organising and attending events around the village. Bat Friendly Beer have even staged their own competition to design a striking logo. The result of this can now be seen around the community!”
Other work in Beer has included the creation of new bat-friendly habitat in the village with the planting of a hedge, and the distribution wildflower seeds to residents for planting in their own gardens. Beer’s own primary school has also been keen to help; this year pupils, staff and parents helped celebrate ‘bat day’ with bat-themed arts, crafts and learning.
A mobile ‘Bat Beacon’ has also regularly visited the village over the past two years giving residents and visitors access to finding out all about the greater horseshoe bats which live locally. Its interactive displays also spell out the reasons why the bat’s numbers have declined across the UK by 90% over the past 100 years and the work now being done to conserve them.
Kate Ponting, Countryside Learning Officer for Clinton Devon Estates, who has championed this community project focussed on greater horseshoe bats and was instrumental in getting Bat Friendly Beer underway, said:
‘'This award is very pleasing and will encourage Bat Friendly Beer to continue and expand its efforts in this special village. The nearby Beer Quarry Caves is an internationally important hibernation roost for greater horseshoe bats and the landscape around it is also key to their survival. This makes it vital that the local community recognises this and work together to protect and promote this special animal.”
Visit the Devon Greater Horseshoe Bat Project to find out more, including how to take part in the Devon Bat Survey In September the project runs the Bat Festival month, and events locally include a chance to visit Beer Quarry Caves on the 10 September, full details can be found on our What's on pages.