Last Saturday and Sunday, 1st and 2nd August, saw Manx Wildlife Trust (MWT) volunteers selling raffle tickets in the Co-op’s Ramsey Christian Street Superstore. The Co-op sponsored the two grand prizes, one for adults and one for children, on sale simultaneously. The result was two very satisfied customers, and a whopping £1,122 raised for MWT’s funds. Ian Davies, Northern MWT volunteer organising this event, says ‘the creativity and support from Co-op staff has been awesome. We had an event planned in the store in May which was cancelled due to Covid-19, along with all our other events Island-wide. Local Co-op staff came up with this as a replacement.’
A Co-operative approach to conservation and community
He went on to say ‘At times on Saturday it was hectic, and we couldn’t sell tickets fast enough. At other times, customers had time to talk about the work MWT is doing, particularly in our Ramsey Forest project, and our initial phases already started from the Hairpin. Ramsey Forest is a major project which will stretch long into the future but is already generating positive change for wildlife and people alike. Our MWT staff and volunteers working there talk about how many local people used the area for their periods of exercise during Covid-19 and remarked on the benefits of the changes being made. This coincided with a period of maximum bird and plant activity which so many people, individuals and families, were able to enjoy during the really tough times over the past months.’
MWT is one of 3 charities in the North (Laxey, Peel and Ramsey stores) which are beneficiaries in 2019-2020 of the Co-op 1% for local causes generated by Co-op members buying Co-op branded products. MWT is the very first environmental charity ever to be chosen and we have already received an incredibly important £4,500 interim payment in May, with the rest to come later, in November. Ian Davies says: ‘This was always going to be a big part of our fund-raising this year, but none of us knew just how big given the effects of Covid-19. This is supporting the Ramsey Forest project which will have Island-wide ramifications, a national forest project of mixed woodland; a continuous corridor for wildlife; a place for rare Manx plants to flourish; a unique place of natural beauty for people of all ages from all parts of the IOM to relax, play, exercise; providing stimulation by nature all around and through the playground infrastructure we have already constructed and will extend.’
Earlier last week MWT took several groups of Co-op Ramsey Store colleagues up to the Hairpin Woodland Park to show them some of the work that their funds have made possible. MWT Conservation Officer and Ramsey Forest Project Lead, Andree Dubbeldam, was able to point out the improved footpaths, Tots Trail and Hazel Maze and describe the future for the site including a ‘Logstickle’ course for older kids.
In closing, Ian Davies said ‘The staff of Manx Co-op made this ground-breaking choice of Manx Wildlife Trust, the Island’s principal wildlife conservation charity. We look forward to working with you, especially next year hopefully, but far into the future too. We can only find one phrase which describes our relationship with all your staff so far – brilliant, absolutely brilliant!’
John Slevin, Manager of the Co-op Christian Street Superstore in Ramsey, responded: ‘We are delighted with our customers’ response to the Raffle. Their generosity never fails to astound us. MWT had a very successful bag pack in our store last year, and this more than makes up for the cancelled bag pack in May this year.’
Sue Iceley is both Manager of the Parliament St store in Ramsey and the Co-op’s Area Community Champion for the whole Isle of Man. She adds to John’s comments: ‘We are very pleased we chose MWT as one of our 3 Northern charities for 2019-2020. As we have become better informed on the long-term Ramsey Forest project, we can appreciate It is already producing results people can see, feel and enjoy. That is what it is all about. Good for nature, good for people and we in Manx Co-op feel extremely comfortable with that. We are also very satisfied with the way MWT deal with our colleagues. They make sure we know what is going on, they have involved us in their developing plans and how the money is being or will be spent. In short, they are good people to deal with. We can’t ask for more than that.’