National Lottery Winners Help London’s Feathered Friends


A team of handy National Lottery winners have spent the winter lockdown building nest boxes for the capital’s wild bird population at The London Wildlife Trust’s Woodberry Wetlands in Hackney.

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, joined the hammer and paintbrush wielding working party all working remotely at home.

The result of their collaboration is a collection of lovingly crafted nest boxes which will now be installed to create a colourful nest box trail at The London Wildlife Trust’s Woodberry Wetlands in Hackney.

Gavin and Sylvia were excited to visit Woodberry Wetlands and help some of the Keeping it Wild Young Apprentices install the nest boxes. Gavin said, “Sylvia and I have tried to use the past twelve months as constructively as possible, renovating our first home together. It’s taken almost every waking hour and every ounce of energy so it has been a relief to put down the plasterboard for a bit and work on something a little more manageable in the shape of these nest boxes!”

Sylvia, who was on the bus heading to work in White City when she bought her winning ticket, is a true animal lover. Her very first purchase was a costly veterinary treatment for their rescue cat and within hours of the win she had donated to Wood Green Animal Shelter and a tiny sanctuary in Wales, Tyr Capel Animal Sanctuary. Talking about the nest box build and the trail at Woodberry Wetlands she said,

“We both love wildlife so we, like loads of other winners, were thrilled to be part of this project and do something useful in those dark days of the winter lockdown.

“Having called London home for so many years, we know firsthand how important pockets of peace and tranquility such as Woodberry Wetlands are to Londoners, as much as the wildlife that live in them.”

Gavin and Sylvia were joined by others from Greater London and Essex including £2.3M Lotto jackpot winner Barb Derry-McClellan from Middlesex, Desiree Home from Maidstone (£1M), Susan Richards and Barry Maddox from Billericay (£3M), Tracy Field from Benfleet (£2.6M) and Tony and Debra Pearce from Southend (£1M). The team all beavered away in their sheds or from the kitchen table, taking inspiration from one another as they shared images of their creations online.

The 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.

“We’re grateful to the winners for their hard work – and to players of The National Lottery too. With every ticket they buy, players are helping Wildlife Trusts just like ours to give a new lease of life to wildlife and wild places and benefit communities by offering the chance to experience nature on their doorstep.

“In fact, Woodberry Wetlands was developed with help from Lottery funding and the Apprentices’ helping with the installation today are part of Keeping it Wild. An ambitious project, funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund, created to inspire 600 young people aged 11-25, from backgrounds currently under-represented in natural heritage, to gain vital skills and engage with the capital’s wild spaces.”
“Nationally, since its launch in 1994 more than £338 million in National Lottery funding has helped support 46 Wildlife Trusts in the UK to deliver projects for nature’s recovery across all four Nations.”
Nest box building is the latest volunteering project big National Lottery winners have been involved with. Since the start of the pandemic, the previous winners have pulled their resources to create fresh vegetable planter boxes for schools and NHS workers as well as knitting twiddlemuffs for people with dementia, making small garments for premature babies and creating Christmas angels for local charities.
Thanks to National Lottery players, over £1BN is being used by charities and organisations affected by the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, which includes over £600M in funding support from the National Lottery Community Fund which is being used to help groups best placed to support people and communities through the crisis.