Lottery winners build nesting boxes for Woodberry Wetlands birds

National Lottery winners, Gavin and Sylvia Smith help with the installation of nest boxes

National Lottery winners, Gavin and Sylvia Smith help with the installation of nest boxes - built and painted by a team of lottery winners during the winter lockdown - at Woodberry Wetlands in Hackney. - Credit: James Robinson

A team of handy National Lottery winners spent the winter lockdown building nest boxes for the wild bird population at Woodberry Wetlands in Hackney.

The result of the collaborative effort is a colourful nest box trail at the London Wildlife Trust (LWT) wetlands.  

Gavin and Sylvia Smith, who were running a Battersea pub when they won the Set for Life top prize of £10,000 every month for 30 years in 2019, said they jumped at the chance to construct and decorate the boxes, both passionate about wildlife and animal welfare.

They helped install the boxes in the wet lands on March 31 and Gavin said on the day from an "absolutely beautiful spot":  "The local people are really lucky to have this place to visit and walk."

Gavin and Sylvia at Woodberry Wetlands in Hackney.

The couple said it only took about half an hour to put the boxes together but that they took a lot longer to decorate them. - Credit: James Robinson

He added: "I think open spaces helping peoples mental health over the last year have just been so important for people to have the opportunity to get out into some great outdoor spaces."

The couple said they were very fortunate, with Sylvia adding: "You need to have a purpose, you need to give back and that’s what really makes you happy at the end of the day."

She was on the bus heading to work when she bought her winning ticket and her first purchases included costly veterinary treatment for her rescue cat, as well as donations to animals charity Wood Green and an animal sanctuary in Wales called Tyr Capel. 

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She added: "We haven’t won the big EuroMillions cash prize but we have won peace of mind and we have won the time back as well because working in the catering industry, we were doing many hours and we were not seeing each other very much."

The Woodberry Wetlands was developed with help from Lottery funding and apprentices, who helped with the installation are part of a project called Keeping it Wild which helps young people learn conservation skills and engage with the capital's wild spaces. 

Gavin's birdbox was decorated as a pub called Robin Inn whereas Sylvia's was made to look like a cuckoo clock.

Gavin's birdbox was decorated as a pub called Robin Inn whereas Sylvia's was made to look like a cuckoo clock. - Credit: James Robinson

London Wildlife Trust’s senior site officer, Andy Flegg, said: “While the future residents of these wonderful nest boxes won’t know they were constructed by a multimillionaire taskforce, hopefully some people who don’t usually visit Woodberry Wetlands will be intrigued and come along to take a look."

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