Barrow’s a wheely useful gift

Blacksmith Stephen Lunn is pictured in the wheelbarrow and is seen with representatives of the Northumberland Youth Service's north area team, including Steve Barrigan, and RSPB Coquet Island site manager Dr Paul Morrison.
Blacksmith Stephen Lunn is pictured in the wheelbarrow and is seen with representatives of the Northumberland Youth Service's north area team, including Steve Barrigan, and RSPB Coquet Island site manager Dr Paul Morrison.

An award-winning blacksmith has built a bespoke wheelbarrow to support the work of the RSPB on a Northumberland nature reserve.

The vital piece of equipment was made by Red Row-based Stephen Lunn to help wardens with their work on Coquet Island, near to Amble.

It was commissioned by the Northumberland Youth’s Service’s north area team, after its youngsters had raised money for the cause during coffee mornings and at the town’s annual puffin festival. The notion of a wheelbarrow stemmed from the fact that there are no mains services on Coquet Island and all the water and gas has to be brought over by boat and transported up the steep path to the lighthouse using conventional wheelbarrows. These wheelbarrows are poorly suited to carrying such bulky and heavy items and a wheelbarrow on Coquet only lasts a couple of years due to the extreme weather conditions and salt air out there. So, in an effort to help the RSPB wardens manage to transport these items, Mr Lunn was asked to invent a purpose-built barrow to fulfil this task. The handover of the wheelbarrow took place last week at Amble Marina, before being loaded onto the RSPB rib and taken out to Coquet Island where it was immediately put into service. The bonus of the design is it constructed entirely of stainless steel so it will last for many years to come. The design is to enable the carrying of two water canisters at a time, with the weight over the wheel, so it is easier to push. A clever removable cradle can be fitted to enable the transportation of heavy gas bottles. Dr Paul Morrison, the RSPB Coquet Island site manager, said: “I am really grateful to the support of the youth group in their efforts to help safeguarding the birds on Coquet Island and delighted with the stainless barrow – a splendid design and a really useful and unique piece of equipment.

“Working and living on Coquet Island is a challenge for the wardens who look after and monitor this special island bird sanctuary and this kind of innovation makes their work much easier. The single wheel on the barrow means it is easier to avoid nests on the ground each time they have to carry goods up and down the path.”

Steve Barrigan, senior area manager for the youth service’s north area team, said: “Over the last few years, we have seen a growing need to support the RSPB and Coquet Island and the young people involved in the youth service have taken a great interest in that.”

This year’s puffin festival is staged in Amble from Monday, May 25, to Sunday, May 31, although there will also be events taking place on the weekend of May 23 and 24.

The event celebrates everything puffin and includes guided nature walks, bird watching, photo exhibitions, arts and crafts, watersports and live music.As part of the festival, a new children’s picture book, Bramble of Amble, has been launched. Written and illustrated by Prisca Furlong, it tells the tale of a cute little puffin who flies into Amble. A contribution from each book sold will go directly to help the work of the RSPB on Coquet Island. A limited edition of 100 copies, priced £3, will be on sale in Amble Town Square on May 25 and 26. They will also be available on May 26 during a talk by Dr Morrison about the RSPB’s work on Coquet Island, which takes place at 7pm in the town’s Mark’s Church. The book can be ordered now for £5, including postage and package, via facebook.com/bramblethepuffin

○ The puffin is in the race to be crowned Britain’s first national bird, as part of a campaign by ornithologist David Lindo. The deadline for votes closed last week, but the winner has not yet been announced.