We need YOUR help to recognise an outstanding contribution to the Somerset Bat Group

In this message we celebrate the nomination of our own Dave Cottle for the Pete Guest Award,(we all NEED to vote, see below). Also below, is news on a provisional date for the South West Bat Conference 2021, and an urgent appeal for help from the BCT Helpline.

Dave Cottle is nominated for the Pete Guest Award 2020!

As most will know Dave Cottle recently stepped down from his role as Chief Trainer for our Bat Group. To celebrate and recognise the vast practical contribution that Dave has made to bat conservation in Somerset we have nominated him for the Pete Guest Award 2020.

Who wins the award is decided by public vote, and hence we would encourage everyone to vote for Dave, to say thank you for all his dedication, innovation, enthusiasm and inspiration over the past 35 years. Put simply, if you weren’t trained by Dave, you were probably trained by someone who was!

You can vote by email, or post, details of how are in this document. But in summary to vote by email:

  • Please copy and paste the voting reference “PGA-Cottle” into the subject of a new email
  • Write your name and bat group (if you are a member of one) only in the main body of email
  • Email to: cmorris@bats.org.uk by 5.30 pm on Monday 24th August.

Clicking the email address above, should do most of the work for you 🙂

To support Dave’s nomination another founder and ex. Chair Edward Wells has written the following:

Dave Cottle is a founder member of the Somerset Bat Group and became its second Chairman, a role he undertook many times over the succeeding three decades. The Group’s constitution does not allow any officer to serve more than two consecutive terms or we would probably not have looked elsewhere. He has also served as Vice-Chairman and Secretary. He has been one of the most important voices on the committee throughout the last 35 years.

The SBG has been successful through the efforts of many people but none more than Dave. It has had a number of strong characters but has never had any serious disagreements. That is largely due to Dave. He is very good at handling bats but even better at handling people. His quiet good humour and real passion for bat conservation have inspired a huge number of people. The same skills made him the key figure in establishing good relations with the Mendip caving community to the considerable benefit of the bats hibernating there. It helps that Dave has either taught or played cricket with most of the locals.

Dave was licensed as a Roost Visitor by NCC in the mid-1980s becoming a Trainer soon afterwards. He has been training bat workers for well over 30 years until finally giving up his licence last year. For much of the time the Somerset Environmental Record Centre was running a nationally renowned training course and Dave helped with the bat work aspect of that. I sometimes look round at Bat Conferences and wonder how many of the delegates were trained by Dave and inspired by him. I know they include members of several leading consultancies and even some BCT staff. More recently, Dave has held the position of Chief Trainer within Somerset helping to guide other Trainers and his own group of trainees. He has been a constant source of inspiration and advice for everyone involved.

Dave was heavily involved with the Regional Meetings back when the regions had a representative on BCT Council and until restricted in part by his wife’s poor health he was a regular at Conference. I cannot remember him giving poor advice. It is not always the most extravert and loudest advocates for wildlife who have the greatest impact and Dave Cottle with his quiet manner and passionate commitment has done more for bat conservation in the West Country than anyone. I remember Pete Guest from my own days on BCT Council in its infancy. Dave remains a well-loved member of the Bat Group and, though no longer a Volunteer Bat Roost Visitor himself, is one of the most helpful and knowledgeable people in providing advice, handling tricky situations and supporting everyone involved in helping homeowners. I am sure that Pete would approve of Dave’s nomination whole-heartedly.

Ed Wells

Please vote for Dave!

Potential date for the South-west Regional Bat Group Conference

This is a preliminary email to let you know we’ve pencilled in Saturday the 17th April (2021) as a potential date for the South-West of England Regional Bat Conference.

Of course we don’t yet know what the social distancing situation will be like this far in advance so we’re unsure in what format the Conference will take place. It’s likely to be an amalgamation of both an actual, and an on-line event; this gives the opportunity to those that would like to meet can, and those that cannot or would prefer not to, to ‘virtually’ attend.

Bat Conservation Trust Helpline Appeal

The last few months have been a time of change and a lot of disruption for us all. The COVID-19 pandemic is having a huge impact on individuals, families, and society at large. In these difficult times the health and well-being of our staff, volunteers, and everyone we work with has been our top priority. We are pleased to say that so far, we have all kept safe and well. We hope this has also been the case for everyone at Somerset Bat Group.

COVID-19 has not just caused us to review how we operate but it has also caused a significant drain on our resources in terms of fighting the misinformation and misunderstanding around the link between COVID-19 and bats; the National Bat Helpline has been on the frontline for this.

On the financial front, we have been able to weather the storm up until now because the BCT team have pulled together. Like most charities, we did have to ask some staff to go on furlough to ensure our survival in the short term. BCT members, donors and sponsors have shown a great deal of patience and generosity so far. We are now turning our attention to the longer term and looking at how we make BCT sustainable. The fundraising environment for the conservation sector was extremely competitive before the pandemic, and we were therefore already using significant amounts of our reserves and investments to fund core aspects of the work we do, including the National Bat Helpline. We anticipate that obtaining funding will get significantly more difficult over the coming months and years, particularly when trying to fund on going work, such as the Helpline, rather than new projects.

At BCT we have recognised the vital role that the National Bat Helpline plays in winning hearts and minds. We will continue to try and secure the funds needed from a variety of sources, including our latest appeal to members (click here), to enable the Helpline to continue to carry out its vital work. We know things are going to get harder and finding a way to make the Helpline sustainable in the long term is our top priority. Be assured that since we last reached out to you for support for the Helpline we have been looking at every possible funding source to try to secure its future. https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/BatHelplineNeedsYou

Over the last few years, bat groups have donated towards exciting projects such as the National Nathusius’ Pipistrelle Project and the Ringing the Changes Project, which aims to establish a set of guidelines and a centralised database for bat ringing. This year our appeal could not be more urgent. The work the National Bat Helpline does would not be possible without the time and dedication given by bat group members, and we are very grateful for that major contribution, but we are now looking to secure funds for the Helpline. Some bat groups along with many individual supporters have already donated, and we are incredibly grateful for every single donation we receive, but we still have a long way to go. If your bat group can’t donate directly but you have specific contacts that you think would be willing to give financial support, please let me know. We need everyone’s help.

The Helpline makes a massive difference to bat conservation. Our recent survey found that, among Helpline callers who felt negative or very negative towards bats, almost three quarters changed to positive or very positive after getting support from the Helpline. Your assistance has never been more important than it is right now – thank you.

With kind regards, Kit Stoner, CEO