£20,000 lifeline for Topsham charity

PUBLISHED: 12:30 08 May 2016

Archant

The Seahorse Trust, based in Topsham, has received a lifeline grant of £20,000 from the People's Postcode Lottery.

The Journal has previously reported how founder Neil Garrick-Maidment feared the Seahorse Trust could close down after 16 years of conservation work, due to lack of funds,

Mr Garrick-Maidment said the grant would help them to create a new course by August that would help to conserve seahorses worldwide for decades.

He said: “I’m ecstatic. It means we have got a very positive future. This funding will go a long way in helping us to protect seahorses.

“However, we are not out of the woods yet - we need £40,000 to £45,000 to run the trust per year. But we do have some breathing space and time to seek out more funding.

“The situation had got so bad I was not drawing a salary and was living off my savings. I’m lucky to have been bequeathed some money that allows me to focus full-time on the Seahorse Trust. However, if the situation had continued, I would have had to have got a part-time job.”

The charity estimates that around 150 million of the species are dying out each year. Seahorses are under threat from pollution, bycatch, direct target fishing, habitat destruction, being kept as pets or being used in the medicine trade.

Mr Garrick-Maidment explained that a tough economic market had made running a charity difficult.

He previously told the Journal he would be ‘devastated’ if the charity were to close down.

Mr Garrick-Maidment said: “I think since the 2008 financial crash, people have been hit hard and times are likely to get tougher.

“But people need to realise if we don’t investigate environmental disasters – they will end up costing millions and millions of pounds in the future.

“If the seahorses go as a species, then we are all stuffed. People who don’t care about the environment should understand our entire future depends on a sustainable planet.”

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