Nature / Funding package in place for wildlife sanctuary upgrade

HILLSWICK Wildlife Sanctuary is celebrating after the final piece in a complex funding jigsaw fell into place late on Wednesday to allow the charity to go ahead with a six-figure upgrade to its animal care facilities.

A grant of almost £100,000 of European money, awarded by the LEADER fund’s Local Action Group, will help to secure the long-term future of the sanctuary.

The funding will supplement an earlier award of £310,000 from the Sullom Voe Association, which represents the Shetland oil industry and the local authority.

A delighted Jan Bevington, who founded the sanctuary more than 30 years ago, said late on Wednesday evening that the funding would allow her to leave “a legacy for Shetland, its future generations and its wonderful wildlife”.

Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary founder Jan Bevington.

She added: “We are absolutely delighted to have won the support of the local folk that sit on the LEADER board after a very long process of submitting and then refining our bid.


“Their support means we can finally proceed with a major building programme that will allow us to realise our long held vision of first class facilities to care for Shetland’s marine mammals.

“We could not have got this far without the backing of Shetland Islands Council, the local oil industry, and especially all the wonderfully kind and generous people who are supporting our work with regular and one off donations.

“We would especially like to thank the members of the Shetland Oil Terminal Environmental Advisory Group, SOTEAG, with whom this whole plan began five years ago.”

Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary hopes to build on its current fundraising programme so that it will be able to employ people to keep the sanctuary going well into the future.

“We can now create a wildlife sanctuary which Shetland can be proud of, including a visitor centre that will allow us to provide a much more interesting experience for the growing number of visitors that come to Hillswick every year,” Jan added.

Become a supporter of Shetland News


The sanctuary began life in 1987 when Jan came across an abandoned seal on a beach at Hillswick.

They went on to play a major part in the response to the Braer oil spill in 1993, with the sanctuary taking in 37 seals and 11 otters and receiving the help of nearly 400 volunteers.

Jan and her husband Pete have been kept busy ever since, helping in the rescue of stranded whales, saving seals caught in fishing line, rescuing abandoned otter cubs and campaigning on wildlife conservation issues.

A video animation of what the new Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary is going to look like is embedded above.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.

Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.

Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has  over 600 supporters  who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.

Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -

  • Bring you the headlines as they happen;
  • Stay editorially independent;
  • Give a voice to the community;
  • Grow site traffic further;
  • Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.

If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.



Subscribe to a selection of different newsletters from Shetland News, varying from breaking news delivered on the minute, to a weekly round-up of the opinion posts. All delivered straight to your inbox.

Daily Briefing Newsletter Weekly Highlights Newsletter Opinion Newsletter Life in Shetland Newsletter

JavaScript Required

We're sorry, but Shetland News isn't fully functional without JavaScript enabled.
Head over to the help page for instructions on how to enable JavaScript on your browser.

Your Privacy

We use cookies on our site to improve your experience.
By using our service, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Browser is out-of-date

Shetland News isn't fully functional with this version of .
Head over to the help page for instructions on updating your browser for more security, improved speed and the best overall experience on this site.

Interested in Notifications?

Get notifications from Shetland News for important and breaking news.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

We're committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to impartial, open and quality local journalism that benefits all residents.

By supporting Shetland News, you play a vital role in ensuring we remain a pivotal resource in supporting the community.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.